Everything You Need To Know About Dating Someone With Kids

You've met someone who excites you, but then you learn that the person has children. Feeling concerned about this situation is normal.

Dating or even marrying someone with kids means that your partner already has intense emotional attachments and responsibilities to other people.

Even so, dating a man with kids or dating a woman with kids can lead to a fulfilling relationship. Romantic success becomes more likely when you're honest with yourself and accept the practical limitations of the situation.

Is Dating a Girl with a Kid a Bad Idea? (Or a Guy)

The answer to this question is not the same for everyone. This is where you need to be honest with yourself.

Dating a man or dating a woman with kids is a bad idea if you don't want to be around children or accept a co-parenting role.

Some people know that they want freedom and spontaneity instead of schedules packed with dance recitals, Saturday morning soccer games, bedtime stories, and teenage drama.

Even if you feel comfortable with kids, you should watch for some red flags about your dating partner. These include:

  • The person avoided telling you about the kids in a timely manner.
  • The parent does not appear interested in the kids.
  • The person has unresolved financial problems, like unpaid child support.
  • Your dating partner wants you to spend money on the kids early in the relationship.

Now, if you're open minded about kids or even like them, then this relationship could be a good fit. Dating someone with kids truly gives you a chance to learn about the other person.

A broad range of his or her characteristics will be on display, such as financial habits, emotional resilience, nurturing abilities, and moral standards.

You'll also get a chance to grow as a person because children can help you discover your softer side and embrace adult responsibilities like a champ.

How to Be in a Relationship with Someone Who Has a Child

Dating a woman or dating a man with a child from a previous relationship makes you the “newbie” in an established family. You're just not going to be at the top of your dating partner's long to-do list, even if that person wishes you were.

Parents are busy people who also must contend with endless interruptions. Keep this in mind when you feel insecure because your new love interest has not returned a text or call. Things happen, like a kid puking in the car or a teacher's conference that started behind schedule.

mother hugging her baby boy while man behind them dating someone with kids

In the first stages of the relationship, you won't know how you fit into the family scene. Don't push for inclusion. If you two are compatible, your outsider status could gradually shift to an inside position.

Stay mindful that the parent knows that kids can derail dating relationships. That person is nervous about dating with kids because people get rejected for this reason all of the time. Overall, you need to be willing to take things slow.

15 Tips for Dating Someone with Kids

1. Don't Freak Out About a Canceled Date

He or she was looking forward to going out with you, but minor disasters blindside parents all of the time.

Children get hurt sometimes, which means an unplanned, two-hour-long visit to the local urgent care. Parenting, especially single parenting, is exhausting. Your date might simply be too tired to have fun on any given day.

2. Respect Scheduling Needs

When your date needs to get home because the babysitter was only hired for certain hours, you need to accept it. Your dating partner may also have to contend with a shared custody schedule with the other parent.

Staying out a couple of extra hours might seem like a minor thing to you, but it could upset the plans of multiple other parties.

3. Become a Planner

Dating someone with kids means that spur-of-the-moment things will rarely happen. You need to discuss dating plans with a parent at least a week ahead of time or maybe two weeks.

4. Let the Parent Decide When You Meet the Kids

After a few dates, you can express interest in meeting the kids. You might even feel eager to do this as a way to show that you're cool with dating someone with kids, but the parent gets to decide when and how this happens.

5. Be Honest About How You Feel Around Kids

If you don't know anything about kids and feel nervous meeting your date's offspring, let that person know. It's OK to admit that you have no idea how to interact with a three-year-old child.

The parent might appreciate your candor and take care not to put you in an awkward situation before you're ready.

6. Don't Expect the Kids to Like You Right Away

When you do meet the kids, their reactions could fall anywhere on a spectrum from polite interest to intense dislike. Kids are innately loyal to their real moms and dads, and they might view you with suspicion.

family of four about to eat dating someone with kids

Very young children might be more receptive, but some can be very shy around new people. Whatever their ages and reactions, children need time to sort out their emotions.

7. Avoid Trying Too Hard to be the “New Parent”

Being allowed into the family circle can feel very validating. Your enthusiasm, however, might push you into the trap of trying to fill a parental role too quickly.

You should especially avoid acting like you have parental authority over the kids. The kids will not recognize you as the new “boss of them” because you're not. The biological parent controls rules and discipline.

8. Ask Before You Buy Gifts for the Kids

The parent that you're dating might have standards about when gifts are appropriate. Talk about things before you start passing out anything expensive.

9. Expect to Have Encounters with the Ex

Dating a man with kids means that you will eventually meet an ex-wife or ex-girlfriend. You may have heard many unflattering things about this person, but try to put that aside when you cross paths with her.

She could dislike that you're around her children, but that is likely a tactic for hurting her ex. Try to act politely but don't feel like you have to try to win her over. The same thing goes for ex-husbands or ex-boyfriends.

10. Be Ready for Family Fun

After you've been introduced to the family, dating could expand beyond date nights. You might all go out together with the kids. That means petting zoos, beaches, and if you're unlucky Chuck E. Cheese.

It could also mean family movie nights at home and video game competitions. This is the stage when you can truly get a taste for what family life will be like long term, which is important to experience if you're thinking about marrying someone with kids.

11. Be a Reliable Presence in Your Partner's Life

Parents inevitably need to lean on others. This means that your boyfriend or girlfriend will ask for favors. You might have to give someone a ride to baseball practice, fix a broken toilet, or pick up dinner for everyone when the parent is stuck at work.

12. Maintain Your Boundaries

Although you need to be a source of love and companionship, you still have individual needs. Even people who have been married a long time still have their personal activities because they are important for self-care.

13. Remember to be Romantic

Children are blessings, but they are also demanding and time consuming. Once you become involved in your dating partner's family life, you might lose sight of the romantic things that dating is about. Avoid this problem by scheduling date nights or surprising the person with a nice gift.

14. Don't Be a Source of Drama

If you've ever been dragged into dating games with other partners, you might have picked up some bad habits.

man holding his kid with woman looking at them dating someone with kids

A parent probably won't have the mental bandwidth to deal with you stirring the pot to create emotional reactions. Immature behavior could get you dumped because a parent already has real diapers to change.

15. Focus on Staying Emotionally Supportive of Your Partner

This advice applies to all couples. People seek romantic partners because they want affection and adult conversation.

Be willing to listen to your partner's complaints about parenting challenges. He or she likely needs to vent and will appreciate your empathy and understanding.

Reasons Not to Date a Man with a Kid (Or a Woman)

The warnings that you've heard about dating people with kids are based on real-life experiences. The possibility that you're not cut out for this exists.

Your attraction to a person might initially overcome your concerns about the children, but the effect can't last forever. What you really need as an individual will rise to the surface.

Your reluctance is not necessarily based on selfishness. You may be curious about what life with kids is like, but do you want to risk hurting someone if you discover that you don't like it?

Common reasons for NOT dating people with kids are:

  • Other people's kids are harder to love than your kids.
  • You may always have a partner's difficult ex complicating your life.
  • Parents live with significant financial burdens.
  • You can't develop a relationship based on “just the two of you.”

Think things through before dating someone with kids.

Your life goals, especially in regards to parenthood, deserve careful consideration. Meeting someone you really like with kids might tempt you to launch a relationship.

The thought of crossing someone off your list because they have kids might feel mean. That choice can also limit your chances of romantic happiness.

To arrive at a decision that sets you up for relationship success, spend some time honestly analyzing what you want from a relationship and whether you want kids in your life.

If you decide to go forward dating with kids, follow the tips offered here to limit conflict and disappointment.

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