Dating a man with kids

April 2, 2014

This is a tough subject to approach. Politely.

I, along with my close friends, along with many other single women of my generation, have strong views when it comes to dating a man with a kid, or dating a man with kids - plural - that aren't yours... which was probably implied, but I wanted to clarify. It can be tough.

I've never cared much for/about male attention, or attention in general. In relationships, I'm not needy about it, but some occasional undivided attention from the man I'm dating is definitely a requirement. That doesn't sound too demanding, right?

You know who else requires attention?

Kids. They require a lot of it.

Kids like to be seen and heard, and they like to be seen and heard often. If a kid sees you’re on the phone with someone, they don’t care. If a kid sees you're in the middle of doing something, they don't care. Kids will interrupt a complete stranger's conversation, disrupt someone's thought process and bug you until you pay attention to what they're saying, or until you address their need(s)/want(s). And if they don't get your attention, they'll probably fuss, cry and whine until they do - even more so if these kids are your kids. As a parent, you have an obvious obligation to give your child the attention they need [and deserve], above anything or anyone else... including the person you're dating. This is especially the case if that person has just recently come into the picture, and this is how things can get kinda lopsided.

I don't have kids. In the words of Miranda Hobbes, “I don't wear vintage clothes, I hate flea markets, I don't collect antiques. Is it too much to ask that he not be... I don't know... used?” A harsh statement indeed, but as a single woman with no children, I've gotta admit, Miranda Hobbes had a valid point. When you date me, you get me. That’s it. My baggage from past relationships is all emotional. No physical persons that come with that package. I hate to imply that kids are or can be baggage, but when you have a child or children from a previously failed relationship, the kids are essentially the remnants of those relations.

I love kids. Very much. Me and little people get along great, and I want a whole little clan of my own one day. I would also consider opening my home to foster children after my nest is empty. All these statements have nothing to do with my opinion of kids in general. They're innocent, beautiful little silver linings that can come from a not-so-beautiful situation.

Dating a man with little people, however, means I come in second or third (or fourth) place to them. Such is not the case when you date me. You will never have to take a backseat to my kids. Why? BECAUSE I DON'T HAVE ANY. Is it selfish to want the same in return? If I call you after a long and busy day, just wanting to hear your voice and have a nice chat to unwind for a bit, I don’t want to constantly “hold on” while you tell you child “put that down,” or while they do something else to distract you from what we're talking about. I want your attention. But a 15-minute uninterrupted conversation might sometimes be too much to ask for when you're dating a man with kids - not always, but sometimes. That can be tough.

If things start getting serious, it's nice to feel like your well-being is that person's top priority. I don't know any woman, myself included, who wants her well-being to be second, third or fourth on her partner's list. Being with a man who has kids, however, means his time, energy and resources are all devoted to the child(ren) before they even think of being devoted to me, despite the fact that I don't have children getting in the way of my devotion to him. It can seem unfair, and I know I’m supposed to be mature, understanding and selfless in a relationship, but it can be super difficult when a child is in the mix.

What if I have an important event at which I need my partner by my side, but that same night, your son/daughter gets sick and wants his/her father? If you properly choose to take care of your child over me, then I'm left hanging, but if you choose to follow through on what we have planned, I might start to question your dedication as a father. Things are even more difficult if you haven't even met the kid yet. Then it's almost like contending with this unseen force, and a powerful one at that!

So maybe that's why so many single women are leery about dating a man with kids. We can see the loosing battles before they even pop up, and it's much easier to avoid those situations altogether. It can be difficult to avoid, though. There's a lot of great (and good-looking) men out there who have a child, or children, from previous relationships. It's not fair to just dismiss them for that reason. If the roles were reversed, and a man had issues dating women with children, I'd be on my raging feminist soapbox right now, in defense of their plight. I'm sure it's not easy for a man to juggle being active in his kids' lives while also catering to his woman's needs. So kudos to the guys who've managed to find the perfect balance.

And I'm raising a tall glass of red to the women who have decided to make the situation work.

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  1. I'm gonna have to give you a slow clap with this post because you most definitely touched on this subject politely. My family is twice divorced and I grew up giving my step-mom hell because she "wasn't my mom and she couldn't tell me what to do." Now that I'm grown, I realize the weight in my step-mom's decision to take me on and respect her even more for it. (we have a great relationship now) But personally, knowing all the trouble I caused her, I've stayed away from men with children... Because growing to love a child you have no right over is the hardest esp. when decisions need to be made as a family and you have to include the "ex." It would cut me deep to have my boyfriend/husband tell me I have no say in the child's upbringing... Shoot, I'd probably leave after that... Talk about a hump day post girl!

    1. Oh, wow! I think you were every future stepmom's worst nightmare, lol. I'm definitely raising a glass to that woman, because we as little girls know how to raise alllll kinds of hell. And yeah, that whole dealing with the ex is a whole 'nother post for a whole 'nother day...

  2. I get along great with children too but it really seems like a huge challenge to commit to a man with kid/s. Some women take this kind of relationship with grace and understanding and infinite patience. I think they are wonderful for doing so. However, I personally can't see myself in that kind of relationship. I used to think I could but I apparently overestimated myself. I slowly came to realize that given my lifestyle, the way I approach and work on a relationship, my personality, my own quirks, and basically who I am, just doesn't have what it takes to take on that kind of relationship.

    1. Interesting... care to elaborate on that? Do you think you'd need more attention than a man with kids could provide? Or do you not have the patience to deal with the situation in general? Thanks so much for sharing, Anna!

  3. Hey Disa! I don't know if you're still active in this post or not. But I found this post while googling an read it carefully and agreed with every word of it as I am experiencing a lot of what you said right now. I have been dating this great guy for 4 months now, and he has a 5 year son from his previous marriage (got divorced more than 2 years ago) and has the kid with him every other weekend. I am a single woman, 30 years old, never been married and have no child. In the beginning I looked at dating him as an experience and did not think that I would make it to 4 months. But the more time I spent wit him, the more close I felt to him and liked him. The weeks that he doesn't have his son are great, we go out a lot and we have a lot of fun. But then he disappears completely for a whole week when he has his son. He doesn't yet want me to be around them when they are together I think for two reasons. First he says he turns to a real dad when his son is around and can not pay much attention to me and is concerned that I feel disappointed. Second, he wants to save his son from any emotional insecurity more than switching home every other week and having parents separated. I have got the feeling that I am really compromising a lot in this relationship, but I don't get anything special in return. He is a great guy but he seems not to want to change his lifestyle in any way and cannot compensate for me the week he was completely unavailable. What I particularly don't like about this relationship is that he doesn't seem to appreciate fully all the patience I am devoting to it. I have been thinking of breaking up with him but I really want to give him a chance because I like him and he seems to like me too and we are so similar in many ways. I don't know how I can talk to him about this without hurting him or sounding needy and demanding. I would appreciate if you can help me with your experience and great ability of describing it. Sorry for writing too long and hope you will actually read this comment.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. No need to apologize - I love long comments! It's tough taking a backseat to (a) kid(s), but at the same time, it's good to know that the man you're dating is willing to devote so much time and attention to his children. Please send me an email so I can give more input - would love to share more of my perspective:)



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