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.

photo source »»