So you’ve signed up to your dating app of choice, and you’ve come across somebody who looks like they might be great. Oh, man, this profile is awesome! Let’s get ready to — aw, buckets…. They have kids.
What do you do? Risk getting into something overly complicated or just swipe left and take no chances? How do you even approach this situation?
tl;dr — We all made the choice to get on this app, we all know what time it is; just ask. Whatever’s on your mind, just ask. An open conversation can remove a lot of the ambiguity so you can move forward with confidence, or simply move on if it doesn’t seem like the right fit.
Having kids is going to take priority in a life — there’s kinda no way around that. But I would argue that, other things being equal, a happy, healthy, well-adjusted parent is better than one who isn’t. Since they’ve signed up for this app, they’ve made the choice to have more in life than work and parenthood. Good for them! If they’re taking this seriously, they’ve already thought about what it will take to balance these parts of their life.
There are a number of considerations that may seem intimidating when thinking about dating a parent. Blended families are becoming more common, and chances are you’ll run across somebody you’re into who has a kid already. And while we’re all beautiful, unique snowflakes and no advice will work for every situation, there are some things worth thinking about before matching with a parent.
None of these should feel like awkward conversations. Parents know that they’re parents, and we’ve definitely already considered the implications that it will have on our dating life. Awkward as it might seem to somebody on the outside, we won’t be insulted if you ask about it. If we didn’t want you to know, we wouldn’t have let you see it in the profile.
So how do you know if you and this magical mama or papa bear might be able to make it work? Here are a few common concerns that you can ask about to help clear the air.
The biggest hurdle to get over is probably scheduling. Whether they have their kids full- or part-time, how much family support is available for things like babysitting, not to mention the kids’ ages, will all have a bearing on how much time they will have for dating. My daughter’s mother lives nearby, and so my daughter alternates weeks between my place and her mom’s. If you’re ok with my being available to spend time with you on a similarly alternating schedule (at least in the beginning) then we’re gold. If not, I’m glad we got that out of the way up front and neither of us wasted the other’s time — go team!
But what about future kids? Some single parents aren’t done, and they’d love to have more kids when they find their next partner. Others are done. And what if you do want kids, but not just yet? Are they willing to restart the countdown-to-freedom clock in seven years? If this is a concern, it’s worth asking. I’ve been through this conversation myself, and after a perfectly straightforward exchange we decided it probably wasn’t the right fit. Awesome! Again, no time wasted, and we can both get back to business. Go team!
There’s also the question of how and when your potential interest would want your path to cross with their kids’. Parents will have different comfort levels with exposing their kids to significant others before they know where it’s going. A revolving door of suitors may make them uncomfortable in front of their kids, or feel like it sets a bad example. Do they want you to step into a parental role, helping cook family dinners and going to soccer games? Or maybe they’re hoping to keep that separate for some amount of time. Parenting styles are as diverse as anything else. Personally, my daughter doesn’t need a mother. She’s already got one, and she’s great. That said, I’m not hiding the fact that I date from my daughter. In fact, if it looks like this might be the one, I’d like to be able to model positive dating to my daughter so she has a reference frame for when she starts dating. My daughter is an important part of my life, and if you’re going to stick around, so is she. That relationship is going to be important. All of this will impact how a relationship is likely to grow. Talking about this will give you a better idea of how much time you’ll get to spend together, when you might meet the kids, and what kind of relationship you each have in mind when that time comes.
You don’t need to go into exacting detail here (asking who watches their kids and when may be a bit creepy), but opening up the conversation should give you a good sense upfront of whether this is worth the time. Every new relationship is a gamble, and there are way more reasons it may or may not work aside from a child. But you can at least get a sense of reality and then make your calculated risk based off of better information. Science!
So here’s the thing: while this may seem unfamiliar and tricky to you, single parents are navigating this field to some degree with everybody they match with. If they’re taking it seriously, they know how to answer these questions already, and they will be just as relieved as you to get all the ambiguity out of the way up front. If they seem cool, asking these questions in a decently polite fashion will signal that you’re at least considerate of the situation, more than likely putting your potential significant other at ease and laying the groundwork for smooth sailing. My having a daughter has blocked some relationships from happening, but it has never been the reason for ending one.
Written for You Can Date Better by Mark McQuade
This post was previously published on Medium.
You Might Also Like These From The Good Men Project
|Compliments Men Want to Hear More Often||Relationships Aren’t Easy, But They’re Worth It||The One Thing Men Want More Than Sex||..A Man’s Kiss Tells You Everything|
Join The Good Men Project as a Premium Member today.
All Premium Members get to view The Good Men Project with NO ADS.
A $50 annual membership gives you an all access pass. You can be a part of every call, group, class and community.
A $25 annual membership gives you access to one class, one Social Interest group and our online communities.
A $12 annual membership gives you access to our Friday calls with the publisher, our online community.
Register New Account
Need more info? A complete list of benefits is here.