Wish We'd Known: Dating A Single Dad
Wish We'd Known: Dating A Single Dad
Wait—how did this happen? The heart wants what the heart wants and apparently yours wants a partner who’s also a parent. But what’s it like dating a single parent? Here’s what these daters say they wish they’d known before starting a relationship with a single dad.
Know That Time Counts: When dating a single parent, you can fall second in the batting order behind kids. “Time is a big consideration--does the person you're dating make dinner for his/her kids? Are they the primary parent? If so, how does affect the time you spend together. When do you see your boyfriend/girlfriend? What does that mean for you that they spend time together with or without you?”—Ibi K.
Don't Mask Your Relationship: It’s best to be straightforward in your introductions. “Don't underestimate the kids’ intelligence. Even if you think the child is too young or oblivious, trying to pass yourself off as a ‘friend’ will likely backfire. Kids are incredibly perceptive and will pick up on any little white lies. Answer questions truthfully, but don't offer more than they ask for.”—Addie G.
Remember There are Loyalties: "That’s another factor to consider dating a single parent--if you’re in conflict with his kids, will he/she have your back? It's important that you present a united front, as partners, to your partner’s kids. How much rudeness/disobedience or impoliteness are you able to tolerate in your own home. Don't be a pushover—you’re not their mother but they have to respect your boundaries and rules when in your home.”--Ibi K.
Know How It'll Enrich Your Life: Though at the onset of the relationship, this can be hard to imagine."I didn’t realize how much I would love my husband’s girls. They were eight and 11 years old when I met their dad. They are now 24 and 26 and I laugh that in one day I can be teaching one of the boys I have with my husband to walk, potty train or read and later be on the phone helping with job, school or boyfriend advice. They are the best big sisters and my boys are so blessed to be so loved by them.”--Suzanne M.
Plan Your Sleepover (If Possible): Er, how do you handle overnight stays? “There is a lot to consider in 'When is it okay to have a sleepover?' But I don’t think anyone can decide or even advise anyone else when the ‘right time’ is – it will be different for every couple.”—Brooke W.
Plan Your Sleepover Part 2: "If you haven't started hanging out with the kids, leave no trace after sleepovers. No toothbrush or hair products left behind afterwards. Kids notice stuff like that way before adults."—Addie G.
Beware of Lack of Control: "I wish I had known how much control the girls’ mom would have over my life. Sure, I knew the kids' needs would come first, but there are all these instances where Mom's life means that I have to go through all kinds of contortions in my schedule. A big chunk of spontaneity disappears from your life: want to go to New York for the weekend? Better make sure Mom doesn't have something planned that means Dad has the kids."—Addie G.
Remember Family Dynamics Count: On both sides of the equation. “Your boyfriend’s family will be much more interested in making sure you’re the right person for their son. Because now they’re not just looking out for him – they’re looking out for his kid(s), too. On the other hand, your family might need convincing that this is what you really want, especially if things get serious. It’s no secret there are challenges to blended family life, and your parents don’t want to see you get hurt.”—Brooke W.
Be Involved: But ease into your involvement in the children’s lives. “Once I was doing stuff with the kids, I tried to let them set the agenda. Shopping was a big deal at the time, but Charlotte wasn't old enough to go on her own, so I took her. I didn't spend a lot of money, but taking her and a friend meant we were doing what she wanted to do. Meanwhile Amy was always into video games, so we would play active games like tennis or dancing together. I was also sure to make sure the girls were comfortable talking about their mom around me. If we were talking about favourite ice cream flavours, I asked what mom's was because I didn't want them to feel like they had to keep us separate.”—Addie G.
Don't Forget, There's a History: “You have to surmount ego, attachment and jealousy of your partner's past, even if he has no attachment to his ex. Things I thought wouldn’t bother me did bother me. You may feel bad that the person has had big ‘firsts’ such as marriage and kids with someone else. No one could have warned me about this. But it would have helped if someone said ‘You will feel challenging, unpleasant emotions you never felt in other relationships.’”—Ibi K.
Work on Your Timing: “Wait until you're really sure about your relationship before you start incorporating yourself into the kids' lives. You need to be sure this thing has legs before you try to get the kids used to what is undoubtedly a confusing development in their lives. All kids want their parents to be together, regardless of how old they were when they split, why they split, or whether they like you or not. We waited almost a year. Once you do decide, try group events first so there's less pressure. Being introduced as “Dad's new girlfriend” on Christmas Day is a recipe for disaster.”—Addie G.
Weigh in Carefully: “At some point, you will be tempted to offer your opinion on some parenting issue. Hopefully you're in a relationship where your opinion counts, but ultimately you're not the parent. In the end the decision won't likely be yours, and when you don't agree you just have to let that go.”—Addie G.