Dating a Divorced Dad
Once a woman reaches a certain age, it's more likely that any romance she experiences will be with a man who has already been married or involved in a serious relationship. Often times, these men have families of their own and all the drama and emotion that comes with being a dad. If you are dating a divorced man with kids, there are a few things you should know.
Special Considerations for Dating Divorced Dads
Dating is hard enough when there are only two people involved, but when you throw kids into the mix, dating reaches a whole new level of complicated. Dating a divorced dad can be challenging to say the least. You can hope for a perfect Brady Bunch style union, but it isn't very likely. As the new woman in a dad's life, you're most likely going to be dealing with jealousy, mistrust and resentment. Your best course of action is to try and understand things from the kids' point of view.
If you come from divorced parents, then you likely understand what your boyfriend's kids are going through. For a child, a parental divorce or separation can feel like the whole world is being torn apart. If you are the first woman their dad is dating after divorce, you can expect to get even more of the snotty stepchild treatment. If things get serious, expect to hear, "You're not my mom!" more than once.
It may be tempting to return the feelings, but stooping to the level of the children is the last thing you want to do. You represent an opportunity for healing to these kids. They've lost the most important thing in their lives, and though you certainly shouldn't try to replace it, you can offer an example of maturity, grace and a healthy romantic relationship—something they probably haven't seen for a while.
Tips for Dating With Children When Pursuing a Relationship With a Divorced Dad
1. Be Sensitive to Family Needs
A good man will want to put his family first, and he should. You wouldn't want the father of your children to brush them off for someone outside the family, so don't take it personally when he has to cancel because his kids are sick or he has to go to a ballet recital.
2. Don't Criticize His ExNo matter what your boyfriend has told you about his ex wife, you should never repeat it in front of the children, even if he does. Even if you know this woman was the cause of the divorce, you need to be sensitive to the face that she is the children's mother, and it's never your place to undermine her in this role.
3. Don't Try to Replace His ExThe kids are right about one thing, you're not their mom, and you shouldn't try to be—at least not yet. If you end up marrying your divorced boyfriend, then you can start working out your role in the family. For now, your job is to be a girlfriend, not a mom.
4. Start as You Mean to Go OnIt's tempting to out on your game face for your boyfriend's kids, especially if they are young. Presents, treats and fun outings can be great ways to bond, but don't go overboard. If you begin by showering them with gifts it won't only be hard to keep it up, it might make them mistrust your motives. The best move is to be yourself and let them come to know you on their own terms.
In the end, dating a man with kids can be really challenging, but also rewarding. You're not just helping one man—you're helping an entire family. That being said, if you find yourself resenting the kids or wishing things were different, you may want to reconsider before things get too serious. If you aren't in a very selfless place, dating a divorced man with kids may not be the best idea for you.