It can be complicated when dating a man with kids, especially if he has all or part custody of the children. It can be hard to find time to be alone without the children and it can be challenging not to offer advice about childrearing to him. It takes a mature woman to understand the complexities of dating a man who has children because you may not always be able to do the things two mature adults would want to do together. If you come to care for the kids, however, the entire process can be rewarding and the relationship can go far.
Be Kind and Supportive
As you are not the primary role model in the children’s lives, it is your job to be kind and supportive of your boyfriend’s role as a father. Be interested in the passions the children share with you and be sure to share your passions as well. Accept the children as people in their own right and tell them how much you enjoy and respect the company of their father.
Accept His Parental Obligations
The man you are dating is a father first and foremost. His obligations as a parent extend for the entire day and night. Because of these obligations, you might need to plan your relationship more carefully and take more time for quality interactions because the quantity of your interactions may not be up to your expectation. The fact that your boyfriend is also a parent may affect your relationship and you will have to deal with this aspect of your relationship if you want it to work
Communicate with Him About His Kids
Dating a man with kids takes special communication skills. Talk to him about the tips written here and how much you are willing to abide by them. Make sure you understand boundaries the father has set up around you when dealing with his kids. Get feedback from him about how you are doing as the new member of the “family”.
Respect His Parental Decisions
Even if you do not always agree with the decisions your boyfriend has made around his kids, you must respect him. He is the primary caregiver so that his decisions are more important than your own. He gets to decide when you will meet the kids for the first time and when it is okay to stay overnight at their home.
Get Prepared for Unexpected Changes
During the course of your relationship with a father, you are bound to have surprises. Children change the way they view you and may surprise you with their reactions. You may also be surprised when you expect to have a night alone with your boyfriend but something comes up with the kid that derails your plans.
Avoid Trying to Be Another Parent
It is not a good idea to try and be another parent with your boyfriend’s kids even if you think you would be a good parent for them. Kids from separated families are already sensitive about the fact that they have to juggle two separate parenting styles. Adding your own personal parenting style to the mix will only confuse them even more.
Don’t Push on His Kids
You can’t push yourself as the “girlfriend” or “lover” in the relationship, especially in front of the children. You may not be suitable for dating a man with kids if you expect to have obvious signs of love and affection in front of the children who might not be prepared for someone else in your boyfriend’s life. If you find that the children do not accept you in the way you would like, be patient as they may come around later and accept you in a role you are more comfortable with.
Don’t Judge His Parenting Choice
Everyone has different parenting styles and your boyfriend is no exception. Unless his parenting style is dangerous to his kids, respect his personal style and let him do as he wishes. He knows his kids better than you do and is present in their lives more often than you are. Because you are not on the front line of parenting, trust the choices your boyfriend makes with regard to discipline and care of the children.
Don’t Meet His Kids Until Your Relationship Is Stable
Make sure that when dating a man with kids, you initially meet in locations that do not involve the children. Try not to meet the children until you are sure the relationship is going to last. Kids need to know that you are a stable force in their father’s life and that you are not going to fall for the typical manipulations that children often do in order to test the strength of your relationship. As a couple, you need to present a united front so that the children can relate to you on a level that they can expect to be permanent.
Don’t Compete with the Other Parent
There is nothing that can replace the children’s mother. Try not to compete with the mother of your boyfriend’s kids and never say bad things about their mother. Ideally, you want respect and approval of the children that is separate from their relationship with their mother. They should never see you as their mother’s rival or replacement. Make sure that your boyfriend follows the same rule and doesn’t say anything bad about their mother in your presence.
Don’t Take It Personally If His Kids Dislike You
Even if you are a really nice person, some children just won’t like you regardless of what you say or do. This may be due to the children who have become jaded around breakups their fathers has had in the past and don’t want to become close to you for fear of losing another person in their life. There may also be an issue with competition with their mother. This is something the children must take care of on their own. Your job is to be polite and wait for the children to come around.