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. In my opinion, it can be, and usually is, a tough situation. I’m the kind of woman who has never cared much to be on the receiving end of male attention. I only ever care about getting attention from one man: my man. 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, say within the last year or so, and this is how things can get kinda lopsided.
I don't have kids. In the words of Miranda Hobbes [yeah, another Sex and the City reference, I can't help it at this point], “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?” That's a blunt and harsh statement, but as a single woman with no children, I've gotta admit, Miranda Hobbes has a valid point. When you date me, you get me. That’s it. My baggage from past relationships is all emotional, and there are no physical persons that come with the 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 the fact that I'm usually about their size probably helps things go over even more smoothly. I want a whole little clan of my own one day, and 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 it can seem unfair to even think or say all this, because it makes me sound like a self-entitled brat. I know I'll never be in competition with a little person who can barely tie his or her own shoes [unless it's a game of laser tag. I show no mercy], 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 some important event at which I need you as my partner by my side, but that same night, your five-year-old son gets sick and wants his 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. It'd be different if it were our child; we'd both be dropping our plans and running to his side. But what if I haven't even met the kid yet? Then it's almost like I'm contending with this unseen force - a force that's way more powerful than me.
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 fine] men out there who have a child, or children, from previous relationships. It's not fair to just rule them out. If the roles were reversed, and a man had issues dating women with children, I'd sound like a raging feminist 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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