Would you consider dating a Mum or Dad?

Dating a Mum and Dad’s with kids can have its issues, but it can also be such a fulfilling and rewarding relationship to be in. I recently appeared in a TV segment on The House Of Wellness talking about this very topic, but of course on TV you always feel like you run out of time and have more to say. So, I felt a blog post might be best.

Children can be challenging when you are trying to start a relationship and it’s not easy to also balance your role in the mix. But it can make you stronger as a couple if you can communicate and work together as a team, which is a great skill to have in a relationship for the long term. It’s important that we start to look at dating people with kids, not as people with baggage but added extras. But we also need to talk more about the potential issues and challenges so people who are considering dating a Mum and Dad are aware of what might be to come.

When we consider that nearly 50% of marriages are ending in divorce and we are dating longer, the chances are high that as you get older you will date someone who has children from a previous relationship. Whilst this used to be seen as baggage, many now are finding fulfillment and more love in relationships where there are kids, but it doesn’t seem that this idea is the norm. There is a real lack of encouragement for singles to date those with children.

Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, and Ross Malinger in Sleepless in Seattle.

It’s important that if you are dating or thinking about dating a Mum or Dad to get to know the person before you get to know the situation.  Singles need to be open to dating someone with children and not see this as baggage. No one would want to be defined by their job or their looks and although the presence of children can be a much bigger issue, I don’t think singles should dismiss someone because of it. It’s a matter of changing the mind set. Does it mean life has to change, does it mean you are not number one and you might not have as many kids as you wanted if you stay together? Or does it mean that you get more to love,  an instance little part time family and already have siblings to help love any more children that you have? Changing the mindset might mean letting go of the fairy-tale, but where did we get the idea of this fairy-tale from? Prince charming didn’t have children. So many singles are still waiting for what looks good on paper without exploring what happiness a situation could bring.

It’s important to also talk to people in a similar situation. If you have concerns about entering a more serious relationship with someone who has children, reach out to friends that have been or are in a similar situation. But be careful at the same time of who you talk to. You might get warning signals and you might have people say “run”. That is a risk of having these conversations. Try and find people on both sides, but it is important to understand what the reality is. Every situation is different.

Children in a relationship can be challenging, but they can also make you realise how much you love their parent. If you can stick by someone with the challenges that children might sometimes bring, it means there is something worth sticking around for. But it’s important to be prepared and know what issues might arise. It can be a great way to work out if someone is worth it. You wouldn’t stick around in a relationship with someone who has children just if they were ok.

But if you are going to date a Mum or Dad, just like all other relationships, communication is the key. You need to be able to discuss any fears with that person but also respect their parenting skills. It can be difficult because these children might already have a Mum and Dad, but eventually if you stay together long enough, you become a parent of these children too. You need to learn early on how to talk about issues that arise but also parenting issues. It’s also useful to communicate about what role you will have in their life. Are you just a  special friend, Dad’s girlfriend or Mum’s boyfriend etc. Establish things early on so you know what role you have or what role you could potentially have if there is a future.

Most importantly however, don’t see this as a pecking order. One of the biggest mistakes people make is fearing that they will never come first. But it’s not about who comes first in someone’s life. There will be sometimes when you need your partner and also sometimes when your partner is not available but it’s something you can handle on your own. It’s about respect for each other. Your partner/date won’t necessarily ditch you when you need them just because they have kids, but make sure when you “need” them it’s a real need and not a way to get their attention and put yourself as number one.

Even if you are a birth parent, kids don’t come with an instructional manual and neither do they when you are the partner or date of a Mum or Dad. Know that this is something that can shake your life upside down but also the love that any child brings into your life, whether you gave birth to them or not is so rewarding. So, maybe think twice before you say “no baggage” when out in the dating world.

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