14 Tips For Dating A Dad With Kids
Updated October 29, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Karen Devlin, LPC
If you recently started dating someone who has children, and this is a new experience for you, you may be unsure of how to go about it, what to expect, or if it is something you want to commit to. It may be very different from dating someone who has no kids and no past marriage. The mere fact that he has a past, and most likely an ex he co-parents with, makes the relationship have a different dynamic than what you may be familiar with.
Individuals who choose to date a single dad, especially those who don't have kids or have never been married, may find it difficult having their personal needs met while also trying to be understanding and realistic about their partner's responsibility to their kids. So, with such a new, different, and potentially exciting endeavor ahead of you, it's important to have some tips to help you navigate through this new relationship dynamic. Below we will discuss 14 tips to help you date a dad or a partner with kids.
14 Tips For Dating A Dad With Kids
- You Shouldn't Meet The Kids Until You Know You're All In
This deserves a place at the top of the list because of the negative impact meeting them too soon can potentially have on his kids if you're not committed, and you're not sure he's someone you want to have a long-term relationship with. What if you break up with him, only to have the kids experience yet another separation? Place the kids first and consider them above all else, including your urge to have them meet you. They've most likely experienced enough transitions and change in their lives. They may feel uncomfortable having someone new coming into their life, and if you do meet them, you may form close bonds. If you're unsure if you want to have a long-term relationship with this man, it may be difficult for the children if you end up disappearing from their lives at some point.
- The Kids Need To Be Ready To Meet You, Too
If you've made certain this is a man you want as a long-term partner, and he feels the same, then it may be time for their dad to have a talk with his kids about you. The children may have experienced challenges with the divorce, so it's important they are prepared and ready to meet you. It may help to take things slowly to get the children used to the idea of their father having a new partner in their life. It's important for children to feel safe, loved, and heard. If the children aren't ready to meet you yet, remember it's okay. They may need a little more time to get used to this new family dynamic.
- Don't Try To Be A Mom To His Kids
If you get the opportunity to meet your partner's children, it's important not to assume the role of a new parent. Attempting to be a parent figure to his children immediately may cause more damage than good, and it may even affect your relationship with your partner. It's important to allow the kids to take it in the direction they want to and at the pace, they feel comfortable with. It may help allow the kids to call you by name or a title you feel comfortable with, but it's important not to push them to call you "mom" or "dad."
- You're Dating The Family, Not Just Him
It's important to keep in mind that when you choose to date a parent, you're essentially dating the family too. As a dad or parent, they come as a package deal. You most likely need to accept this and understand that they probably have a long history or memories and traditions. You may create new memories and traditions with them, but it's important to respect the life they had before you became a part of it.
- Respect His Need To Speak With His Ex
When dating someone who is a parent, it's important to understand the level of communication they may need with their ex to be successful co-parents. Of course, their communication should be healthy and respectful towards you, the new partner, and limited to contact solely regarding the children's needs. Healthy communication between co-parents can positively affect the well-being of the kids, and it may also give the kids a sense of security knowing their parents still get along and put their needs first. As difficult as it may be, especially if they get along very well, it may be helpful to avoid being jealous or resentful of their relationship.
- Understand That You Won't Always Come First
This truth may sometimes be hard to hear, but understanding this may be essential if you want to start the relationship on a healthy and solid foundation. It's important to have your needs met in a relationship, but it's also important to understand your needs may not always come first when dating a parent. Their children are important and need proper care and a healthy relationship with their parents to thrive.
Your partner may experience difficult moments when raising their children and managing co-parenting with an ex. It may be helpful to be supportive during these times and allow him to talk to you when they need you. However, it's best to practice active listening and not give advice unless they ask for it.
- Always Consider The Kids' Experience
If you haven't gone through a divorce and don't have any children, it may be difficult for you to understand what the children's experience is in all of this. It may be helpful to put yourself in the children's shoes and try to understand their experience of possibly having two homes, going through a divorce, transitions, and many other changes and how these changes might affect them.
- Take Time For You
Possibly one of the most limiting things you can do is give all your time and energy to him and his kids while neglecting yourself. You're likely also experiencing many new changes, and it is important to take time for yourself. Practicing self-care and keeping your independence in addition to this new family dynamic can be incredibly beneficial.
- Try Not to Take Things Personally
You may experience some resistance from the kids at times, considering the emotional trauma they may have experienced. They may test you or compare you to their parent. It will likely take some time for them to get used to this transition, and it may seem at times like they don't like you or appreciate you. However, it's important to give it time for them to accept these changes and realize that it is most likely not personal against you.
- Don't Push Too Hard
Naturally, you may want them to accept you quickly, and you may end up rushing into things or pushing them too much. However, it may be beneficial to take things slow, not try so hard to get them to like you and give them space. It's important to be yourself and have the confidence to know that taking the time to know each other is likely the best course of action.
It's important to respect boundaries with your partner's children and stay aware that you aren't their parent. As an adult, you may want to remind the kids of the rules and report misbehavior to their dad, but it's important to talk to your partner about what role he feels comfortable with you having when it comes to discipline.
Communication is vital to keep the foundation of any relationship solid. It's important to express your feelings to your partner. If you find yourself frustrated or not having your needs met, it may be helpful to express this. Your partner is likely managing many different aspects of his life, including his children, and he may be completely unaware of your feelings, so communicating it to him is necessary for you, for him, and your relationship.
- Sleep At Home
When you first meet the kids, it may be helpful to sleep at home in the beginning. This may help ease the transition and may set a good example for the children. They may feel confused why this new person is suddenly sleeping over at their house all the time, and it may make them feel uncomfortable. It also allows their dad to spend some quality time with the kids while they get used to the idea of having a new person in their life.
If you're in a relationship with a partner who has kids, you may find it challenging at times. It's important to know that you're not alone and there is support available. Therapy may be a great solution for you to work through any challenges and improve your relationship. Regain is an online therapy platform specializing in couples' counseling. They can match you with a therapist that best suits your specific needs. Online therapy is a convenient option to seek the support you need. With chat, text, phone, and video chat options, you can speak with a therapist most conveniently for you anytime you need and wherever you have an internet connection. Reach out today.
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