What you need to know:
- If the relationship is serious, you can agree to meet his kids once you have gone out on several dates and mutually determined that you wish to pursue a longer, formal relationship.
- Don’t impose yourself on the kids or impose yourself as a mother.
- There is a huge possibility that his kids will influence how your new man perceives you or even the longevity of your relationship.
Dating a single father is not an easy task. The circumstances that led to his single parenthood could be a constant shadow in your relationship. He might be divorced, he might be a baby-daddy or a widower. His needs and expectations from you will be different from those of other men. But despite the dating complications that are brought about by single fatherhood, there are ways that you can date a single father and go on to have a successful relationship.
Decide if your romantic relationship with a single father requires you to meet his kids. There are instances when you should not. For example, if you are just having a sexual liaison, it will be unwise to meet his kids or impose yourself in their lives. “It will not be fair for the children to constantly be anxious over what will happen to them if you marry their father when you are only dating casually,” says Dr. Kristi Pikiewicz, the author of The Little Black Book. If the relationship is serious, you can agree to meet his kids once you have gone out on several dates and mutually determined that you wish to pursue a longer, formal relationship. “Remember that you can only meet his kids when he is ready to make the introduction, and not necessarily when you’re ready to be introduced,” says Ms. Pikiewicz.
Display of affection
Go slow on your display of affection, especially in the presence of his kids. It does not matter whether they are too young to comprehend what kissing and sexual cuddling is. “The child may not be able to understand your display of affection, but they will interpret it as territorial invasion. The child will assume that you have come to break their bond and take their father away,” says child therapist Celestine Ogeyo.
The non-custodial mom
There is a huge chance that your partner’s baby-mama might be around. In such instances, it might be harder for the two of you to enjoy a warm relationship. Counseling psychologist Lydiah Maina says that the non-custodial biological mother might resent her diminished role in nurturing and making decisions for her children. “She may fear that she is losing her children’s affection to you and may try to undermine your position in her baby daddy’s life. She will do this to minimise the influence and relationship that you have with her children,” she says. If the single father you are dating has been enjoying a cordial co-parenting relationship with the mother of his children, you should not attempt to disrupt this parenting relationship. Know your position in the arrangement. Don’t impose yourself on the kids or impose yourself as a mother. Worse, don’t show off as a worthier mother to the children than the biological mother, or place unnecessary hurdles on the inevitable co-parenting interactions and communications.
His kids and you
There is a huge possibility that his kids will influence how your new man perceives you or even the longevity of your relationship. To get it right, do not assume the position of a disciplinarian. “Leave all forms of disciplining to their dad, especially in the first few months,” says Lydiah. Also, don’t take over all the parenting roles that he has been doing. “If he has been dropping the children to school, allow him to continue doing so. Bear in mind that he too needs to have a healthy and growing relationship and time with his kids,” says Lydiah. Beware that there are times when his kids will compare you to their mother. Or even tell it to your face that you’re not their mother. Don’t take offense. This is their way of expressing emotions. Listen and gradually, their trust in you will increase.
Having kids together
As your relationship gets serious, you must address the question of having children together. “Find out early on if he would want to have more kids. You might wish to have a child of your own, while he may feel that he’s done having kids. Know where you stand and how it will affect your relationship,” says Ogeyo. Do not make the mistake of having kids simply because you don’t feel complete as a mother raising another woman’s children.