You just matched with this attractive and seemingly sane person online. After your first chat you find out they have children. How do you know you’re ready to deal with the additional facet of this new romance? It’s hard enough trying to date, but kids can bring up a whole new angle to trying to create a relationship.
We have compiled a few areas to consider to decide whether or not you are ready to date someone with children:
- Having Kids Doesn’t Mean an End to Romance
Kids shouldn’t be a red flag in a relationship. Nothing should alter how attractive you view this potential mate. Instead it just means there might be more areas to navigate around. Have a conversation about what you both expect in terms of interacting with the children and other family members.
- Establish Boundaries
You both will need to set limits from the beginning of your courtship. Begin by understanding your needs and how to protect your heart. Remember, your date is the parent, not you. Don’t feel like you have to do everything. Ask before taking any action. Establish a healthy pattern of communication so you both can ask when help is needed. But, understand when to back off if one of you feels uncomfortable with any request. This can help you cultivate an open and honest relationship and ensure neither of you have to shoulder any burden.
- Understand the Dynamic of BOTH Parent’s Roles
Dating a parent means you have the understand the full family dynamic. This includes how your love interacts with the other parent of their children. If they are still involved, try to find common ground beyond the children with this parent. You don’t have to become besties, but maintaining an amicable environment will ensure your love and the kids remain mentally healthy. If the other parent is out of the picture, except to hear their name brought up a few times. Remain as positive as possible to lessen any complications to the family patterns.
- Respect the Kids’ Perceptions
If you are going to date a parent, you at some point will become involved with their children. Begin by taking things slow when building this side of the relationship. Let them set the pace of how to create a bond. Give them a safe space to share their thoughts and feelings. Never say anything bad about that parent to the child, no matter what you hear from your partner. Check in with the children from time to time about the pacing of the relationship or to see what support they might want from you. Building a relationship with the children might not be easy, but by being respectful, open, honest and slow, you can grow a healthy report in time.
- Love Doesn’t Happen Overnight!
If you have ever worried that you might not be able to fully love a child that isn’t yours, you aren’t alone. Although it is awkward at first love and respect can happen. Find time to get to know each other and any expectations. By going slow, you can work on communication and quick resolve any misconceptions. Lead with sincere curiosity and interests, from there love can bloom in time. Kids are smart, be genuine and respectful or this relationship will quickly end.
- Be Flexible
Kids can complication one’s dating life. Sometimes your partner won’t be able to go out or plans will need to be adjusted to accommodate the kids and their needs. Never put your partner in the situation of having to pick between you or their kids. The kids’ needs should always come first. Try to plan out activities as far in advance as possible to help avoid scheduling conflicts. Also, it is helpful if a date can sometime include the kids.
- Stress Happens
How do you handle awkward or tense moments? This is a good facet to look at before getting seriously involved with a parent. Family drama can happen suddenly and issues with the other parent can ripple into the life of your paramour. It is helpful for you to be a steady influence and have a positive attitude to counteract any emotional strain for the kids or your partner.
It’s not easy being a parent, and your partner will need to vent at times. In order for them to feel safe sharing, you will need to show them that you support their emotions and can understand their perceptive. They are nervous their additions to the relationship might be too tough for you to face. Dating can feel new to them and the balance of your needs and the children’s needs could be an area making them anxious. The best way to show your support is to listen empathetically and validate their concerns. Ask them what support they need from you and follow-through with that support. Maintain open and honest communications between you both and ensure no one is feeling overwhelmed.