Dating someone with kids requires a kind of selflessness that you have to be ready for. If you do it, here are some important things to consider.
Kids come first. Always. No matter what. Even if they’re snarky teenagers. Even if they’re your age. (It happens.)
Don’t rush it. Take time to figure out how to meet the kids. Here’s a guide to help you know when it’s right.
Don’t compete. Your partner is going to need to focus on their kids. A lot. Try not to get jealous or compete for attention. Instead, join in when it’s appropriate and try to understand when it’s best to let them have alone time.
Don’t worry if the kids don’t like you at first. There could be a million reasons why a child doesn’t like you and most of the time those reasons aren’t even about you. The kids could be processing feelings about their parents not getting back together or projecting emotional pain or grief on to you. It won’t be easy, but please don’t take it personally. Sometimes it just takes a while before you click with their children.
Don’t force it. If you’re not clicking with the kids, you might feel desperate to get them to like you. And that might make you buy them stuff, act like a peer, or let them influence your relationship too much. Instead, try to give them space, time, and respect and see if that helps.
Don’t be afraid to participate. Life with kids can get unpredictable and you may find yourself dropping your plans to take care of a sick child or putting a little one to bed while your partner helps an older sibling with a late homework assignment. Embrace it. If getting involved helps you bond with the kids, that’s a good thing.
Try to be cool towards the ex. If the ex has the kids part-time, you’ll probably interact with them during drop off or at special events. Never bad-mouth them in front of the kids or behave poorly around them. Be an example of good behavior and respect. After all, it’s the kids’ other parent—whom they love—and you don’t want to give the children a reason to dislike you.
Try to be patient. There may be times when you want privacy with your partner, but the kids are around. Or you want to go away for a romantic weekend, but your partner will have the kids. Remain calm and supportive and we’re confident that your partner will appreciate it and make it up to you. Yes, you may have to wait, but we bet it’s worth it.
Don’t postpone your life. Yes, the kids come first…however, that doesn’t mean you should put your life and needs on hold. Blending families is about healthy integration, not deprivation.
P.S. Here are 5 myths about getting HIV that we want to clear up right now.