Dating someone with kids can be a wonderful and rewarding experience, but it also comes with its own unique challenges. Imagine you have found yourself a fabulous partner, but they come with adorable sidekicks. I have learned to navigate through this new adventure. Nevertheless, I did have my reservations and opinions that some may agree with or not.
Dating in your 40s is not easy and let’s be honest, the pool of eligible suitors (men and women) without children is very limited and more than likely they come with children. I had to be honest with myself and my future partner. I don’t have children of my own, but have been open to the idea of dating someone with kids. It’s a personal choice and acknowledging my wants and being transparent is always a must at our age. There is no room for playing games, especially bringing in a third party. Not only am I in a relationship with my partner, but I am also in a relationship with the children and the other parent. Basically, I become an extension of their family dynamic, which means I am dating the whole family. It takes a bit of getting used to that idea since I wasn’t part of the making.
There are so many factors to consider when dating someone with kids. I had my struggles with it, but this is what I have learned and how I have navigated it so far. I needed to be mindful of their parenting styles. It may become difficult if both parents have different styles. This one is an important one and is its own topic for another time. It becomes challenging and the choices they make will affect me in some way. I do feel the burden at times. There is this sense of obligation and responsibility, but at times I have felt I really have no power and made to feel like the third wheel. I know being a parent has its own challenges. However, I need my partner to respect my feelings and consider any advice that I may have to offer; as long as my partner doesn’t undermine me and considers the advice from a different perspective. Just because I don’t have a child does not mean I don’t have solid advice or know what I am talking about. A pet peeve of mine is when parents tell me that I have no clue how to bring up a child because I don’t have my own. I was once a kid with parents and have had experiences growing up which have shaped me into who I am; a responsible, educated adult with morals and values.
I don’t want to sound like a “Debbie Downer” and make it sound all bad. On the contrary, there are many partners who are amazing parents and that speaks volumes to how they handle all things in life. I was lucky to find a great partner, who came with two beautiful kids and I learned to navigate this new adventure. I learned to be more patient and understanding. I have learned to accommodate when things change at the last minute with schedules. This one has been a little hard for me. I lived alone for so long and entered a relationship knowing that I had to adapt to a new lifestyle. I would no longer have all weekends to myself, but instead plan out weekend activities with my partner and kids. I had to understand my partner’s responsibilities as a parent. I needed to respect the parents’ co-parenting and stay out of conflicts. Another hard one for me because I would see how disagreements with the other parent would affect my partner’s mood and organically that would trickle over to me. Therefore, I learned to communicate more and how to be open and honest about expectations and boundaries of how things will be handled at home, outings, etc.
As I stated earlier, I expect my partner to also consider my feelings and respect them. Having these conversations earlier rather than later did build a stronger foundation. In addition, building a bond with the children does take patience. I allowed them to take their time to open up to me. I didn’t want to force myself on them or think I was replacing them in any way. I understood that this was also brand new for them and they have their own feelings about the situation. I respect their time with my partner; I make sure to show genuine interest in their lives and I want to be a positive influence in their lives. I am also having fun and enjoying the outings we do as a family.
Overall, taking it slow is essential; don’t rush the process. All parties have to get adjusted and learn to navigate in building a blended family. Every situation is unique and it’s important to communicate expectations and concerns. I have learned to approach it with an open mind, understanding, empathy, love, and laughter. I embrace the journey because there is so much to learn and most importantly it’s building a loving relationship.