It doesn’t matter if you love kids or can do without them. Whether you are a parent or not, dating someone with kids is difficult—big time, mucho grande, super duper, unbelievably difficult.
There are a ton of reasons why. Your stress and drama levels increase exponentially when your partner has kids. You’re trying to squeeze in a little romance around a schedule five times as chaotic as other people’s.
Then you have to deal with the whole “kids always come first” thing that makes you want to vomit twice because you know that these little monsters don’t give two shits about their freakin’ elders anymore, so why should you put them over your wants and needs?
On the other hand, your partner may get along swimmingly with their ex—aka her child’s baby daddy. The kids–aka your potential stepkids–may even be quintessential darlings.
However, even under ideal circumstances, you will have to deal with a million more obstacles when dating someone with kids compared to without ’em.
Dating is already complicated. There’s work, school, bills, a hectic social life, walking the dog, and picking up a gallon of milk on your way home.
When you have a “normal” relationship, it can be a bit frantic. But then, when you’re dating someone with kids, you have to deal with your schedule, your partner’s schedule, and then their kids’ schedules—not to mention the different personalities that go along with each individual.
And don’t even get us started on whether your new partner is dealing with a challenging co-parenting situation. Unfortunately, their issue has now become yours. So, be prepared.
Have you figured out yet that dating someone with kids can be intense? Understand that there is no such thing as a non-serious relationship when kids are involved. That’s why you need to carefully consider this before getting serious.
Also, understand that successfully blending a family is a challenging journey. It can take 5- 8 years on average, and sometimes even longer.
You are not only committing to your new partner; you’re also committing to the children. You’re at a twelve on a commitment scale of one to ten. So, to get into a more relaxed 1–5 range, it’s going to require some work. Are you up for the challenge?
You are making yourself vulnerable to both your partner and their kids, which is serious. So, if it’s this scary, why would anyone in their right mind get involved with someone with children?
Good question. Becoming involved with a partner who has kids can be enriching. You reap the rewards of being with your partner, who loves you, and their kids. There’s nothing more precious than that.
You’re the only one who can answer why you should date someone with kids. You’re the only one who knows if you’re ready to become a stepparent and if you’ll be a good one.
You can always cut loose and search for a less complicated relationship, but when you do that, the stakes are higher. You’re not just moving on from your partner; you’re also moving on from their kids. You and only you know your limits and what you can deal with.
So, you still need to figure out if dating someone with kids is right for you. That’s OK because we’ve got some tips to help you avoid the most common pitfalls that may trip you up.
Dating Someone with Kids is Hard as Balls!
So, you have been listening because we just stated this information above (in different terms, of course.) But we’re happy to reiterate that DATING SOMEONE WITH KIDS IS CHALLENGING! And not just in ways you’d think, but in hectic, exasperating, and exhausting ways.
There will be a ton of crap you cannot change–which is almost everything–and guess what? You’ll feel completely helpless.
Sometimes, it will feel like your partner’s kids can’t stand you and don’t want you around–and most times, you’d be right.
You’ll wonder why you hang out with little people who clearly don’t want you near them. You’ll need to defend your choice to date someone with kids to everyone, including your mom, your sister, your cousin, and even a stranger walking on the street. When the kids embarrass you in public, you’ll want to shout to anyone within earshot, “These little crumb snatchers are not my kids, I swear!”
Here’s the remedy; give your almost-step-kids a break. They’re not mature like you, so they’ll act out occasionally. Give them space, but not so much that it appears you don’t give two craps about them.
Instead, be involved, but don’t overstep the boundaries you and their parent should have already set. Most importantly, be realistic about your role in the entire situation and remember you’re not their parent. At this point, you’re helping your partner parent, but you’re not the primary. You are their stepparent.
Remember, there are no rules set in stone regarding stepparenting. You do what works for you and the blended family you’re attempting to create.
Typically, when you have preconceived notions, you wind up flat on your ass trying to figure out what the hell hit you so hard.
We’ve established that step parenting is hard. But the good news is that hard isn’t the same as impossible. Hard is doable, but don’t just skip into this thinking the entire situation will be hunky dory.
Ohhh, You’re a Kid Person. Guess What–It’s Still Hard!
Many people consider themselves kid people–that is until they have kids of their own. It was so cute when your sibling brought over your nieces and nephews for a quick visit.
Then there were the strangers’ toddlers who would wander over to you because you looked so nice and friendly.
At family gatherings, you were the one that would play with all children while the rest of the adults sat to themselves, sipping on wine.
Then, at Thanksgiving, you preferred sitting at the kids’ table because it was so much fun. Besides, you have a Rock-Paper-Scissors title you need to protect. Yep, that was you. You were the quintessential kid person.
Please don’t misunderstand. It’s great that you can get along with kids. However, getting along and living with (and being responsible for) are two separate things.
Sadly, it may not just be that a kid doesn’t like you. You’re human, so you might be the one who doesn’t get along with the kid, and that happens.
The difficulties you will face when dating a someone with kids don’t boil down to being a kid person or a non-kid person. However, if you enjoy being around them, then yes, there’s one less obstacle to deal with.
But one less obstacle out of a gazillion isn’t much of a head start. But hey, you gotta start someplace, right?
It’s important to note that you’re doing everything correctly. Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts that force the kids to like you.
Warming up to each other takes time and will not happen overnight. Just hang in there and exercise a little patience. Eventually, they will come around.
Step Parenting Is Way More than Just Kids
Unfortunately, dating someone with kids is much more than trading a romantic dinner for play dates. If that were the only issue, it would be easier to deal with, but it’s not. Some other things to consider include the following:
- Time with your new partner is limited.
- Don’t wait too long to meet the kids. The pressure can build up and create more anxiety than needed. However, you also don’t want to meet the kids too soon. Wait until you and your new partner know more about the relationship and its direction.
- Don’t kiss or even hold hands for an extended period. Doing so may scar a child as they watch their mom or dad with someone new, especially if they secretly hope their parents will get back together. This situation happens frequently.
- Plans will sometimes need to be changed or canceled because of kid stuff, like a child getting sick or needing a parent/teacher meeting at the last minute.
- You will need to deal with your new partner’s constant communication with their ex (the kids’ other parent). Nine times out of ten, it’ll be a call regarding the kids, but that one call may make you curious and feel awkward about questioning.
- Visitation plans from the other parent may cause a change in your plans. A change in plans may happen frequently, so get used to it.
- Semi-dates that include going to their kid’s basketball game and then getting some pizza on the way home. This can be a cutesy family-type date, but let’s get real; it can seem like a forced get-together if you’re not in the mood for doing these types of activities.
- Keep your expectations in check. You have no idea how you will react to your partner’s kids, nor do you know how they will respond to you, so be prepared for any and everything. How will your partner react if you don’t get along? Are they willing to be your advocate, or are you on your own?
- Will your family be supportive of you dating someone with a child? Translation–are they prepared to be welcoming at family events? Will they offer well-meaning advice, and if so, how much of it should you take, and how much of it is total bullshit?
- Do you know what your partner expects from you? If not, this is a discussion you need to have; the sooner, the better. What role will you play in their kids’ lives, if any at all? What do you and your partner consider overstepping the boundaries as opposed to what counts as not being hands-on enough?
- You’ll need to let go of the perfect family you envisioned for yourself in the future and learn to be content with your ready-made one.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Dating with Kids
You’ve been a single parent long enough, and now it’s time to get back out there. But things have changed.
The last time you dated, N’Sync was topping the pop charts. Since then, you’ve been married, divorced, and have three kids. You want to begin dating again but need to figure out how to do that, especially now that kids are in the mix.
- Slow it down: You no longer have the luxury of love at first sight. It’s now more like Are-they-a-suitable-fit-for-me-and-the-children at first site. New relationships can be exciting, but rushing into one can be a major mistake.
- Wait to talk about your kids: You don’t need to tell a potential partner you have kids immediately. This fact should eventually come out organically within the first hours of conversing, so there’s no need to open the conversation with, “Hello, I have kids, and your name is? If you decide to date online, having kids is something you should consider putting into your profile. There are even dating sites catering to single parents.
- Know yourself and what you want: Why are you dating? If you’re lonely or looking for a stepparent for your children, then you’re not dating for the right reasons. Knowing why you want to date again is something you should understand before putting yourself back out there. Be honest with yourself. Say that if you’re dating because you’re ready to find a new relationship. However, if you’re dating because you see it as something fun and unique, you may be ready.
- Prepare your partner: By the time you’re ready to make introductions to your children, your partner should already be well aware that you have kids. So, when you’re ready, ensure your partner is willing, and most importantly, make sure your child is ready. Prep your partner on your kid’s interests so they can go into the situation with an engaging conversation to get off on the right foot.
- Make it fun: When you view dating as something fun, you are ready to move full steam ahead. You’re not looking for someone to fill a void, but you’re looking for a special person to join you in your already fulfilled life. Unfortunately, with the Do’s come the Don’ts. Here are a few things to avoid when dating and having kids.
- Make everyone “The One”: Now that you’re dating again, you may have good dates and some not-so-good ones. Don’t make all the good dates “the one”; therefore, want your kids to meet them immediately. Give it time and make sure they’re the right fit.
- Force it: As a single person, don’t try and force a relationship between you and a potential partner. If you have any hesitation with someone, trust your gut. Remember, it’s not just you anymore. You now have your children to think about.
- Keep things hush-hush: Even though it’s vital you wait until you’re sure about the relationship before making introductions to your children, you also shouldn’t hide the fact that you’re dating. It’s OK to let your kids know that Mommy or Daddy is seeing someone and going out on dates.
- Do anything dangerous: If you sign up for an online dating site, you don’t need to date every match just because they contacted you. It would be best if you were wary of potential scams and catfishing. Of course, you don’t want to put yourself or your family in harm’s way, so always do extensive research before meeting an online prospect in person. If you match, see if their information checks out before even contacting them. Are you able to find anything on them on social media? If not, make sure you have several conversations before giving any personal information. Be wary if they ask for money, attempt to get you to give personal information, are over complimentary, you catch them in one (or several) lies.
- Bring home a bunch of partners in front of the kids: This is a big don’t because, unfortunately, kids can become quickly attached, and you want them to avoid getting their feelings hurt every time someone comes and goes. Additionally, you want to avoid having a constant revolving door of potential partners. This will confuse your child, especially if one person they liked no longer comes around. They may blame themselves. When everyone involved (you, your partner, and your partner’s children) are ready, you can plan a simple way for everyone to meet. This way, there are no surprises, and can make a possible awkward situation run smoothly. This brings us to our next point…
- Have any surprise first-time visits: Don’t bring your new partner over during a birthday party or any other family event. Instead, create a time when everyone is available, so there are no potentially uncomfortable situations. Keep the first visit short and sweet, and do not put your partner and child together in a situation they can’t easily escape if the visit goes south. (ex, all-day events).
Dating someone with kids can be challenging, but it doesn’t go without its rewards. There is no such thing as a perfect relationship, especially when stepchildren are involved, but it’s not impossible to still have a beautiful connection. Take your time, get to know the kids individually, and take each moment as it comes.