Firstly, I just wanted to say a big ‘Thanks‘ to everyone who read my last post, about Dating as a Single Parent – would you? – there was loads of engagement, likes and shares – it really is massively appreciated!
So, as everyone seemed to enjoy the last post around dating, I thought I would do a follow up post on this subject. This time I will explore the advantages and disadvantages of dating someone with and without children as a single parent.
When the children’s mother and I split up over 4 years ago, I quite quickly started dating (as I have previously eluded to). I think for anyone who you have children with and then become single, whatever the reason, it can be a natural emotion to look to replace that person – but it is a minefield for a whole multitude of reasons. You are re-finding yourself, you need to create a new routine for your children, establish new boundaries at home and work potentially, and in so many ways you are starting afresh.
It takes time to bounce back and recover fully, but as many of us may know, being single and on your own (with or without children), can be a lonely place. People can understandably feel embarrassed by their situation and this comes down to the anxiety and worry of what ‘friends’ and society may really think about you.
I believe once you are over those initial hurdles and accepted the reality of your position, and are in a better place emotionally – no matter how long that may take, then dating could be a viable option. So when that time comes as a single parent, do you date another person with children or without children?
One of the first dates I had soon after the break-up with the children’s Mummy was with a girl of similar age to me, she had no children and I was amazed that she would be remotely interested in me. She was attractive, seemed to have a good personality and I was on a high knowing that my situation of having two very young children for half of the time was; well, what I thought to be, pretty unappealing really. I guess at the time it really did give me a confidence boost though – but long term you need to be with that person for the right reasons and an ego boost is definitely not a valid reason!
While trying to get to know this person, it became apparent relatively quickly that there was no longevity in this potential relationship. Cracks started to appear early on and it was just the little things that started to mount up for me. Ok, we have all told off our children for interrupting us when on a phone call, but at the age they were, they just simply wouldn’t understand social etiquette. I remember a situation whereby she got frustrated with me, I had the children and they were in bed one night and I was on the phone to her. I had to end the call abruptly as I was needed by one of the kids as they were crying. As I have said previously, you want someone to recognise your situation in it’s entirety and I just felt there was a lack of understanding, as she thought they should be left to it and even questioned why they weren’t asleep. As we know, sometimes they just wake up, for well – no reason!
On a different evening, but only a short period after the above, I took a quick call from her as I was getting the children ready for bed. It was their bath time, so I said to her, “I will give you a call back later as I am just about to bath the kids. Actually, I may just jump in with them.” There was a long pause on the phone and her reply was deadly serious, “Well I hope you will be wearing swimming shorts!” Now, I guess we all have views on this, but for me, I don’t see anything wrong with any parent having a bath with their babies. Bearing in mind, mine were both under 3 years old at the time. We used to do things like make bubble bath beards, play with their toys and it was always a fun time when we did it.
Sadly, I think some sections of society can be largely responsible for the above type reaction and really, it ought to come down to personal choice. I am not here to try and educate people on what is right and wrong, I simply need someone to be on my wavelength rather than enforce what they think is right on me. However, I knew there and then, we were fundamentally different and that ‘common’ understanding I am seeking, was just not there.
Dating someone without children does have it’s advantages, that person probably will have a lot more time to try and be flexible around whatever schedules you have with work/your children and that can really be a positive thing. Another scenario, could be that they may not be able to have children themselves but absolutely love and always wanted children of their own, so that could be a win-win situation.
I have heard a few people in the past say, that when they have dated people without children, things became hard, as the partner didn’t always feel like they were the centre of attention. That person may struggle to understand the concept that a parent’s time ultimately has to be shared between them and the children – but for me, the children’s needs should always come first. I think some people without children have never had to put themselves last and so it is possible they can be inadvertently a little selfish – although this isn’t always the case. It can’t always be about the romance, there has to be a balance and sometimes it will be about having to help your children do homework, read a book with them, or look after a poorly little one and you need for a partner to understand this and support you.
One of the things that ought to be addressed pretty quickly, is if the person you are dating wants children of their own or not (this can of course also apply to those with children too). Either way, this is a conversation that ideally needs to happen upfront and early. I suppose, the advantages of online dating, is that this work is usually done for you, as most conventional dating sites tend to ask for this information when creating a profile. That said, I have found people to be contradictory in terms of what they write and what they actually want! So to be sure, it’s best to have what is potentially a deep(ish) conversation sooner rather than later, before feelings build up, rather than trust what is written down on someone’s profile.
So as a single parent, what about dating someone else who has children? Is this easier for you? Firstly, a parent dating another parent can be quite advantageous. You will find, a parent who is properly immersed in their children’s lives ought to have some mutual understandings with you. Sure, parenting styles may differ, but you may find the little things a bonus, like not being quizzed on why you never text back in a timely manner (because you were doing something with your kids) – there hopefully should be that sort of understanding at a minimum.
For one parent to understand how another person parents, could either be an attractive or unattractive trait, dependent on their style. It may be that you are poles apart on discipline methods, patience, even things like what to give a child at meal times. On the flip side, you could be very similar in styles and I would think this notion is worth exploring before the point of integrating yourselves with each other’s children.
We all have a story to tell and a lot of us come as a package, but the package that is right for one, may not be right for the next. We all have an ‘ideal’, a ‘dream’ or whatever you want to call it, but certain things may not be negotiable. I remember once chatting to someone who also had two children, we seemed to get on, but was told that it would probably best that we didn’t meet. When I asked why, her response was “Well I have two children, you have two children – how would we all go out together as one family? We would need a bigger car.” To be fair, yes she had a point – not everyone wants the ‘Soccer Mom’s car’, but in a sense I thought it was a little contradictory, but at least she had the foresight to think ahead. That said, someone who was very maternal may not have seen this is as a problem and so it comes down to this ‘ideal’, this ‘dream’ that I earlier mentioned – what are your deal breakers? I’d urge anyone who is dating or thinking about dating to have these already thought of.
Two families coming together is no easy feat, and often yields mixed successes. I think, if this is a route you are going to explore, you need to be fully prepared to embrace the other person’s child(ren) as you would your own. I was chatting to someone recently, who told me that he married a woman, (she had two children from a previous relationship) and they had a child of their own together too. He was thinking of leaving her, as his wife wouldn’t let him parent the other two children, only the one they had together. He was at his wits end and found the whole situation utterly frustrating – and I can see why. The other children had no respect for him and he had no real status in the household and his worry, was that the child they had together, would see this as it got older, which could lead to problems.
We all love our children don’t we? In our eyes (albeit maybe a little biased), they are little angels. But what about the child who acts up towards the new partner or has behavioural issues? There are of course ways around that and balanced communication seems to be the best way forward.
This link may be of interest to those who may be faced with this situation: https://www.thespruce.com/when-your-kids-hate-who-youre-dating-2997328
So in summary, there are for’s and against’s for both options, but if you are dating or are ready to date, then it is important to know what you want in terms of your ‘ideal’. One thing is for sure, any relationship requires patience and that someone special. What are your deal-makers? What are your deal-breakers? What does ‘happy ever after’ look like to you? I would love to hear from you all.
My previous post on dating as single parent can be found by clicking this here..