Why single parents should put their kids second when dating

single dad with kids

Um, hi? Remember me?

I wrote this a couple years ago, and it continues to be one of my most-trafficked and commented-on posts. I stand by it 100% — as well as the followup I wrote here — and am bemused by the angry comments around my blog from people who think children should be the center of single moms’ lives. Read between the lines on some of these screeds — they’re really saying mothers should deny their sexualities. That moms who date or enjoy sex are bad moms. Of course that is all hogwash, and you know know that, but I’m republishing this as an enthusiastic reminder to get out there, date, enjoy and stop feeling guilty you’re destroying your family in the process. 

I meet most men that I date online. It’s very common for guys with kids to write in their OKCupid profiles: “My kids come first,” or “My daughter is the center of my world.”

I get where you’re coming from. You want a potential mate to know that your life includes the giant presence of a kid or four. You also want women to know you’re a devoted dad (it’s no secret chicks get hot for guys who are great with kids!). Got it. Roger!

But I bristle at those lines. When it comes to relationships, I’m fond of saying, You never really knows what goes on between people. But there are a few couples in my life who I look to as models of the kind of marriage I’d like one day. People who really enjoy each other. Respect and support one another. And in these families, the parents put their relationship before the kids. They are the dynamic centriforce around which the family’s life orbits. And everyone thrives as a result.

#1 Site For Love - Match.com® Official Site

There is lots of research to suggest that a happy marriage is the cornerstone of well-adjusted kids. Celebrity sex therapist Laura Berman, Ph.D., writes in her relationship guide, The Book of Love: “No matter how sacrilegious it sounds, you need to put your relationship before your children. A strong relationship provides security for your children and demonstrates how a loving, respectful partnership should be. What could be more important?”

That’s a tricky proposition for single parents. If you’re not in a committed relationship, it is very easy to make your kids the prominent one in your life. After all, they can be so demanding — not to mention fulfilling. Plus, if you’ve gone through divorce or another crisis that landed you as a single parent, you are no doubt concerned about giving your kids extra care and sense of security. It’s no surprise that so many blended families I know struggle with adjusting all parties to a home where everyone is suddenly expected to revolve around the new relationship. It can be so hard. Some find it impossible.

But it is even trickier if one or both of the parents put the kids before their partner. One dad I went out with nearly boasted when telling me about a four-month relationship that went sour because his girlfriend did not understand why he’d abruptly leave in the middle of dinner because his tween son would call, upset about some matter with his hockey coach. Another’s girlfriend eventually broke up with him after several years because he rarely made time to spend alone with her, instead expecting constant family time with his son.

Ultimately, failure to put their partner first was a sign these guys were not ready for a serious relationship, or at least not with those particular women, and that is totally normal. But it’s not cool to pay lip service to intentions of growing a serious, long-term relationship and from the onset demote your lover to second-rank — even before you message her on Match.com. Women are certainly guilty of putting their kids ahead of their partner — maybe even more so than men, especially since they are nearly always the primary care giver in the event of divorce. But in this moment when men are struggling to claim their place as equal parents while society expects divorced dads to be the lackadaisical weekend father, I get why you are compelled to go overboard with your expressed devotion.

But guys! If you are indeed ready for a real love, create a space for her. Imagine a relationship that centers on the two of you, and all the stability and care your kids will take from that. Accept that a truly wonderful relationship only multiplies the love available to your kids — not robs them of some of yours. Because in those families, there is all the more love to go around.


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98 thoughts on “Why single parents should put their kids second when dating

    1. I ‘think’ Emma should have put a bit more effort into her marriage and show a bit more respect for her kids instead of acting like a desperado hitting dating sites.

      1. A young woman want all of her attention focused on herself even if she’s a single mother with kids that’s not possible when you have kids you wanted that much attention you shouldn’t have spread your legs that just goes to with the territory if you put your kids second I’m a prime example of being forced to put my kids second in order to keep my relationship somewhat functional then your children all of a sudden don’t feel that attention anymore my daughter have gotten to the point where she tried cutting herself a few times those little precious minds need all the help and wisdom and guidance that they can get especially from their fathers and no woman should feel right just from taking that alone time away from another child that’s very f****** selfish in my girlfriend is very f****** selfish I tell her this all the time I don’t f****** cry wine and b**** and complain when she has to do s*** for her children but the moment I do something for one of my children he’s a f****** wreck very nasty ugly person to be around then she wonders why we never get along it’s because he can’t accept my children being around there’s no time and her own world for them to fit in but on another note I can sit there all week with her and her children everything’s fine but the minute the weekend comes around usually becomes an argument I get my children on the weekends I used to get him every weekend I split up my parenting time every other weekend so that me and her could have some time and now its to the point where she keeps pushing the issue of her selfishness that I don’t even want to be with her there’s got to be a woman out there a mature woman who understands that you can’t take that attention that a father feels for his children away from a man think that it’s okay I didn’t say it has to be 24/7 7 days a week devoted towards your children which I don’t do but I’m f****** day out of the week isn’t going to hurt anyone and if you can’t deal with that then you need to move on

  1. The hockey coach thing was ridiculous.

    But think about it…most divorced guys spent a bloody fortune on a divorce that – statistically – was most likely initiated by the wife. Some of those guys were lucky enough to get joint custody, others got stiffed by a judge who gave them every other weekend, and most of them had to split the assets with the ex.

    Most of them had been putting their wives first, drifted away from friends over the years, and look where it got them.

    If I were to divorce while my kids are still minors, any woman will be second to them, and a distant second at that.

    1. Let’s be real. If a man were putting his wife first, the chances of divorce are dramatically decreased. Even so, men and women need to get over their pasts and give respect to the person they select instead of punishing them for the ex’s behavior.

    2. Well, good luck keeping an intimate, mature, equal, adult relationship going. Guess you’ll be single for a long time. Why can’t parents realise that these two loves are different? Just don’t treat your children like a partner and your partner like a (disowned) child and you’ll be fine. It isn’t a competition but so many thoughtless partners make it one. Your spouse is your spouse, your children are your children. You are capable of loving both and then everyone wins. Why does everyone think that these loves are mutually exclusive – they are not!! Just treat your spouse with respect, affection and a little thoughtfulness when you are with your kids and try not to lick your kids boots – its nauseating! Kids need a loving parent, not a pushover sycophant.
      My husband asks his 15 year old daughter if she is ok every 5-10 minutes, then checks in on me as an afterthought because he realises how uneven he is being. As I’m newly pregnant, tired and nauseous, you think he might show a little consideration. I get he loves his daughter and dotes on her and he’s a great Dad. Just don’t expect a reasonably self-respecting woman to like walking behind you two cuddling like lovers, or eating her lunch while you both get up and walk away, or the two of you walking off repeatedly whilst in Paris when you promised not to, or you singing her name repeatedly, or paying too much child support, etc etc etc. If we hadn’t moved overseas I would have left him as I hate being spoken down to when she’s around. His coolness towards me and his over the top affection for her cannot help but leave me feeling rejected, alone and replaced. How does this help me feel love towards them? How does it create a family unit? My mistake for thinking he could love us both in a balanced way. I just do my own thing now and leave them to it. Not a good way to maintain your marriage though so I wouldn’t recommend it. Balance people, its all about balance!!

      1. Wow. I feel for you. My husband has a 13 year old son but he doesn’t put him first. He always makes me feel loved, included, and important. When his son had a slightly snotty phase with me and tried to make me feel excluded too, I spoke to my husband about it openly and calmly. My husband then spoke to his son (in private – which was wise of him) calmly but firmly. The behavior stopped. His son tried to push the boundaries again a few months later, but my husband told his son (again privately) that I’m an adult and he must treat me with respect, just as he must treat his teachers and other adults with respect, and he must also be polite and say “thank you” when I do things for him (like cook him a meal, etc.) His son’s snotty behavior stopped to my relief. We are kind and respectful in our home. Our marriage does come first. We are having a baby now, and I am currently reading a book called “To Have Happy Kids, Put Your Marriage First” because I believe that a strong, loving, healthy marriage makes a secure home for a child. If we don’t have a strong, positive, loving marriage, how would his son (or our daughter) feel if we were to divorce? It took his son a few years to get used to me. If we don’t put our marriage first – we would lose the cornerstone of our home and family, (the bedrock of our family!) So thank God my husband does put our marriage first, and you can see by our home being peaceful and thankfully free of the kind of unfairness, step-mom bashing, or other madness that I hear about in so many stepfamilies. Frankly, his son seems happier when we are happy together. He seems more relaxed and relieved when we are happy and peaceful in our marriage. I guess he knows all is well. My husband and his ex-wife had no relationship at all for 10 years. They didn’t fight, but they didn’t talk, hug, kiss or even share a bedroom. They stayed together for their son, and finally split when he was 10.
        I wouldn’t have married my husband if he had behaved how your husband does. You deserve better. And before people on this site bash me for being an selfish step-mom, be aware that I do plenty of nice things for this boy, like making his favorite – my homemade chicken soup, which I spend hours picking meat from bones and making it from scratch, and I do it in the darn summer, because he loves my soup so much and always asks for it. I don’t even eat soup in the summer, just make it for him. So, we nourish him and we care about him, but he doesn’t rule our home, we don’t pay homage to him, and when our baby is born, same goes for her. They are members of a loving family, not reigning princesses or princes who’s every whim is put above and before the adults’ needs. I wish you luck in your situation. Please speak up for yourself calmly, and don’t be afraid to. And don’t kiss the daughter’s ass as your husband is clearly doing. The situation is clearly dysfunctional, but a very common stepfamily dynamic. No the stepkid shouldn’t come first, but frankly, our own kid won’t come first. The marriage, and the family UNIT comes first. Today’s kids are way too spoiled, and children of divorce are often even more so, due to parental guilt, which is understandable, but is all too often mishandled by spoiling, overindulging, etc.

        1. Thanks for this perspective – I love hearing from conscientious step-parents who always lend a really interesting and important perspective to the divorced-families challenges and joys.

        2. I totally agree with you! My daughters father is newly dating a younger woman and totally ignores our daughter. He works, comes home, showers and goes to his girlfriends or goes to bed. It irritates me that he doesn’t make the time to have a day to spend with our daughter. Any suggestions on how I can get over this and be ok? I’ve confronted him over this and his reply is he wants to have a life, but he’s never made time for our daughter and I think it’s important for him to include her in on activities and gradually get her use to this new relationship.

          1. Well, one don’t assume you can change someone else, ever. But maybe start from a place of compassion. “I’m worried about our daughter. How can I support your relationship with her?” But it sounds like he just never got it, so probably never will.

            Then you let go of any notions of controlling him, and move on.

        3. why do you people take children…… plz don’t have children if you think you can treat children like second class citizen….. nobody ask you to have children if you can’t pput frist in your life ……don’t be stupid like author!!!!!!

          1. I agree it sounds like the author is very emotionally demanding which can be very physically straining on any relationship no man wants to have to choose this children over his woman just like a real man wouldn’t expect a woman to choose him over her kids I’m in the same situation right now and its f****** Old a very old it’s so bad to the point where my kids can’t even come around anymore because she gets so jealous because I spend my time or some of my time towards them you’re not going to f****** die women if your man who has children with another woman chooses to spend some time with his children if he’s with you all week and you get to spend time with him all week one day out of that week should be reasonable to devote to his kids without getting any childish backlash or jealousy sounds to me like the author is a little selfish and self-centered when you’re in a relationship and you have kids you can’t choose yourself over your own kids

        4. Wow, I am very impress with your post. I support you 100%. I just broke up with my fiancé because he told me his daughter comes before me.

          1. And so she should be his 1st Priority! Are you that selfish to think that you should prioritize over and above a Child? Clearly…some of you Women have lost your Humanity! I seriously pity you!!!

          2. Most men say that meaning, hey if my child is sick or hurt and we’re in the middle of having a romantic dinner, we’re going to stop what we’re doing, and rush them to the hospital, not push them second and say hold on will finish eating and then I’ll go take care of any important issue….. if you had your own kids with another man you want him expect him to treat them that way would you? No you wouldn’t! If you had your own child and she was injured or hurt and needed to be taken to the hospital and no one else was around to do it you would stop the dinner too I believe that’s all your ex husband was trying to say not put you second completely, but letting you know that hey, I do have other people in this world to pay attention to other than just you

        5. You are so right, I’m struggling a it as we don’t get much private time, he is so loving tho, we kiss and cuddle but very rarely get quality time. I have two sons in their 20s he has 18 yr old daughter, 15 yr old son and a 7 year old daughter. The 18 year old lies but is also very mixed up and he’s not addressing the issues, 15yr old son and 7year all is good, with my two sons all is good. We are sticking together regarding the 18year old showing a united front but it grinding me down, as the strops and tantrums aren’t stopping, he doesn’t want to talk to her as all it is,is lies, but I feel this won’t make the problem go away. I love him so much, he’s so amazing and treats me so right. Any advice would be so helpful

      2. Hi. I don’t mean to disrespect, but the incidents you describe….sound very inappropriate to say the least. I know from dating someone who was way too close to his sister, and reading your post was making my stomach get a sick feeling (same as when I dated the guy with the sister thing). Since, I have learned to trust that gut feeling.

        I hope this is not the case for you, and that you can find truth, and enjoy a normal, healthy and balanced life.


      3. Hearing you! How do you do it! My fiancé treats me so badly when his kids are with us. Admittingly it’s only school holidays. It’s the only time we argue! I dread this time! They play him against me and it works! I try and stay away but sometimes it can’t be helped! nothing I do is right! My cooking etc! It’s like I’m a maid to them! And money?!?! It’s a very expensive time! It grows on trees! And I still haven’t caught up by the next holidays!

      4. This is exactly the same for me. I am 37 weeks pregnant and have had nothing from him or his daughter. He tells me his daughter will be more of a priority as her mother is not capable of looking after their 11 year old. The fact he even tells her you come first etc and they hold hands and walk off. She speaks down at me and he does nothing . I feel alone and trapped when she is around like I have to go to another part of the house so that events like this do not occur. I can’t even sit on the sofa with him with out either her crying for him to get in to bed with her until she sleeps or for her to me invited in between us on the sofa.

      5. Wow, i’m going thru the ssme exact situations and it’s kinda a relief to know i’m not crazy. My bf of 4 years and his daughter behave and treat me the same way as you described…like an outsider. I’ve tried everything. We have reg discysdions about this topic and he tells me i’m being “crazy” or “mental” when all i’m trying to do is get him to realize how unbalanced things really are. Thanks for posting your experience.

      6. Sorry, but you are just wrong, when you decide to have kids you make a choice in that moment to put yourself second, that is just a fact. Those kids did not ask you, YOU asked them.

        I don’t think anyone suggests a parent must give into every single demand a child makes, but saying a boyfriend or girlfriend should be on equal, or even greater footing than your child is just plain disturbing.

    3. you can’t blame other women for what the first one did to you. A woman deserves all of you or you shouldn’t be seeking a relationship until that thinking is gone.

      1. Carol you’re incorrect, I’m sorry Im a living result of this scenario…… what you and your partner need to do in the scenario you sit down and have a long talk not a betch fest… but a talk, a woman does deserve to be first but she also has to understand her place and at what correct times should she be placed first. Not a constant first position that just can’t happen when you have children if you can’t show your children guidance because you’re too busy showing your loved one how much you love them, then that’s a sad story for everyone!

    4. Haha, that’s funny!! Most guys aren’t always the bread winner lets get that straight… It’s not always, “his fortune.” Secondly, men cheat big time my friend… Matter a fact many men cheat on their wives every week for years with all different women. You know what the sad part is they are still married because the wife doesn’t know… That just threw your statistics right out the door… I love my kids dearly if you find an amazing person to spend your life with I agree your partner comes first, you just need to create a good balance… No relationships are easy it takes a lot of love, work and commitment…

      1. He very clearly said most of the time the man is the bread winner, pretty sad you have to twist his words because your argument is so weak. Men cheat, sure, so do women, I find cheating deplorable regardless of the sex of the person but I would bet both sexes these days are equally guilty.

        I must say I’m shocked how many of you are so self-centered that you actually think your romantic life should come before your children, but look around at how screwed kids are and it doesn’t surprise me when they are being raised by people like you.

    5. So basically what you are teaching your own little girl is that no matter how great you are; the mom isnt important and always on the back burner, right? If you do not show your little kids, how important a relationship is then you are merely showing them how to mistreat one another. Its great you want to show them im a good dad, but what they see you in love is how you are teaching them to treat a spouse yourself. So I disagree with you, you always show the kids they are included, but you should never put anyone nor anything above your spouse, they married you in a union, not marriage gone divided.

      1. No that’s not what you’re teaching your children you’re teaching them A there will always be someone around who loves you any mother or parent can say they love their child but actions speak louder than words

      2. If he is getting remarried then she would not be their mother, and she is not his flesh and blood and he did not bring her into the world, your comment is plain absurd.

  2. Harry – really interesting points I had not considered. This really got me thinking:

    >Most of them had been putting their wives first, drifted away from friends over the years, and look where it got them.

  3. I’d forgotten about my post for this article, so I’m back a few weeks later…

    An elaboration on the sentence you referenced…I don’t want to go so far as to say, “look out for #1.” But I will say that nobody cares about your life as much as you do. So I guess the moral of the story is be a giving person, but don’t be played for a sucker.

  4. Agreed that the hockey coach thing is ridiculous, and that if you are dating someone, you need to make time alone as a couple to get to know each other and to be adults and not just mommies and daddies.

    However, knowing too many single parents, moms and dads, who have placed too much of a priority on their significant other of the week rather than their kids’ stability, I think I would rather go the other way. I would be much more comfortable with the match.com dad who says his kids come first than the one who is willing to drop them at a moment’s notice for a good date. Which I suppose is why I’ve always been most comfortable dating (good) single dads, because they seem to get where I’m coming from in terms of the time, energy, and responsibility devoted to our kids.

    Ultimately, I would like to have a great relationship with the right man, but I certainly couldn’t say that someone I’d been dating for a few months would become a priority over my son. It’s hard to find that balance and admittedly I err on the side of “my kid comes first”. I’m ok with that for now. If the right man comes along, hopefully we will both gradually be able to make room for each other. But he may have to accept one night a week with a sitter for my son at first.

    1. As the stepmother of an adult daughter that is bringing a different man into into her three small children’s lives every few months I say hogwash!! The fact that
      she is not even legally divorced makes the situation worse.

      Ask yourself-what am I teaching the kids by this example? The priority of any parent -single or married- is to provide a safe, secure and stable home life for their children!

      This goes to show what a hedonistic society we still live in. I hope my stepdaughter hasn;t seen your pathetic blog. The idea that putting your kids second to a boyfriend is acceptable is terrible. If a single parent is engaged to be married then that is a game changer. But up until a commitment is made-the children come first.

  5. Thinking of the single dad I dated who never once visited me while I was in the hospital for a week with an infection. He used his kids as an excuse, then having no money for gas.
    Yeah, well it really spelled out what his priorities were.

      1. This is such a BS piece. Here’s the deal. Single people need to find someone single with NO kids. There are plenty of people out there. Single people with kids find someone else ‘single’, with kids – you are already both on the same page. BUT if you can’t meet someone amongst those in the same situation as yourself, then work on the best relationship you can have in the all the circumstances ,with the other parent and share the child care right down the MIDDLE. That way you can both have good relationships with your kids. and it is fair When kids are grown and independent then you can BOTH do as you like. Parenting is no different to any other job although it is arguably more important than most. If you slacked off in your day job or decided that you could re-prioritise your duties to give yourself more freedom, you’d get the sack. ” BUT I HAVE A RIGHT TO A PERSONAL LIFE ” I hear you bleat” – too bad, you CHOSE to be parents – not part time parents or when I feel like it parents. Then there is the fact, that single people who end up with someone else’s left over family have already sent out the message that they don’t deserve better – so don’t start belly aching about lack of respect or coming second – you chose to be SECOND. People who come with baggage and kids in tow have already re-aligned their expectations, people who hook up with them need to do the same. If you don’t like it, then you only have yourselves to blame.

  6. I think this article drastically over-simplifies matters. My mother and her ‘new’ (4 years, not that new…) husband put each other first, followed by his children, followed by my brother and I. This has led to us both feeling extremely isolated and alienated. Although I acknowledge that my mum and her husband need time to themselves, I think that there still needs to be a definite element of love from a parent in a child’s life for them to be happy. My step-father has manipulated my mother and she now has no friends of her own and has completely lost touch with all members of her family except for me (including her own mother, sister, and son, who now lives with our father,) and the way my step siblings are treated is vastly superior to the way I live. Although they live separately from us, when they visit we buy food from Waitrose, as opposed to our usual Sainsburys. If I try to watch the television with them or eat with them, I am shunned or constantly mocked under the pretence of ‘sarcastic wit’, which, if returned by myself, is treated as abject rudeness. I know do not feel like I can engage in the family at all; I am an outsider, banished to my bedroom and scared to leave for fear of encountering the dreaded husband. I feel more relaxed at school than at home. I have been diagnosed with depression and anxiety. So, although this article seems to be very pro ‘single-independant-women-living-life-to-the-full etc. etc,’ which I am completely up for, I feel the need to point out the dangers of continuing this sort of attitude into a long term relationship.

    Sorry for the rant. :)

    1. Hi A – thanks for sharing and I’m so sorry you are in such a horrible situation. It sounds like your mom is in an abusive relationship and that affects the entire family. I hope she gets the help she needs.

    2. Hi. Thanks for your comment as I am a single Mum with a 2 and 5 yr old.
      I am now living with my partner who has 3 kids of his own but they visit every fortnight on a weekend.
      I am scared as all hell to not lose who I am or the Mother I was before I met my partner.
      I have read lots about putting your kids second but it has never sat well with me and I always wondered how grown kids feel that have witnessed it.
      Thanks for the insight and I Wil be careful not to fall into the same trap as your Mother.

      1. I really believe that if you are genuinely taking care of yourself, being true to yourself, you are going to be a happy, healthy woman and great role model for your kids, and a thriving mom. For example, if you commit to regular exercise, that may mean you spend, say, 5 fewer hours per week with your children. But you a) will be happier, more energetic and less stressed (take this from me — two days without exercise and my kids pay the price!), setting a great example of healthy living for your family, and more likely to live a longer, healthier life and not be a burden on your kids down the road.

        Apply this to dating … if you are happily dating or searching for love or enjoying a great relationship or getting regular, fantastic sex, then a) you will feel fantastic and your kids will benefit from that, b) you will model an adult woman who recognizes her needs as a person and acts on them, responsibly, c), you will set an example of happy, healthy dating and maybe a relationship, d) you will teach your kids that the sun does not rise and set on their asses.

      2. Here I’ll help you out Molly I’m 33 my girlfriend is 27 together we have 6 kids two of which are mine and three of which are hers, one is our newborn daughter she’ll be a year old December 5th….. my oldest is 13 years old she’ll be turning 14 on December 26th of this year I’ve been with this girl for two and a half almost 3 years…. my kids before I meet her, I would see them every weekend Saturdays and Sundays, I raise them this way since they were around 4yes old and 2 years old being that me and my ex wife split we finally where to a point, where we were pretty all leveled out, I was single for a while before I met my new girlfriend then I finally got lonely to the point where I wanted a relationship I have bent over backwards for my new girlfriend and it never seems enough when dealing with my children having time for her. Come to find out she was put second growing up and it’s affected her tremendously she wants to be put first over anything no matter what so. We’re to the point now where I tried to be understanding of her feelings, and her wants, and her needs…. to the point where I started slowly pushing my kids away it became to the point where when my kids did come over to the house her house mind you to visit me they began to feel unwelcome because she always had and attitude towards them, because whenever they are around I tend to show them a little attention I only get to see them every other week now by choice to work in favorism of keeping my girlfriend happy. It was so bad to the point that when my 10 year old son came over I would be out cutting the lawn or some oddball chore, or thing to do around the house, that I would show him how to do it and let him help she began to freak out on me because her sons couldn’t help although her sons ranged in age from 3 5 and 6 there was no way that her could have pushed a lawn mower so because of this she wouldn’t let me have my son learn responsibilities and help cut the lawn. I had to push them so far away from me to give her all the attention and put her first that my children now resent me, they don’t like to be around me because I’m with her had she been a little bit more caring as somewhat what should be expected towards someone else’s kids and not straight up rude to the point where they don’t want to be around you my kids would be fine my daughter as a result of this so-called putting your kids second theory, has already tried cutting her wrist a couple times used to be a normal dressing type of girl now she switched almost completely gothic whenever she does come around us she doesn’t even listen she puts on her headphones I’ve done everything I can possibly do to try to adjust the situation but if your significant other that you are with does not want to share their time with you or your children I’ve came to the point where I’m starting to realize that I can do this on my own I don’t necessary need drama constant fights every weekend over my children being around or my children not being around it selfishness for anyone to think that you can put children second… I’m a living and prime example of this scenario and it doesn’t work out great for either person I love my girlfriend but I hate the way she thinks her mentality I’m with her all week for two weeks straight I go to work come home we do random things we go shopping on Sundays at night just the simple shape but she always claims that I never spend enough time towards her and…. so my story continues…

    3. I come from a family and have dated within families who ostracize or team up on a member of the family just because they are dysfunctional. My family did it with me, and I dated a man for a decade whose family did it to each other, abusing under the sarcasm title, but if you give it back you are being a jerk.
      In the end, it doesn’t matter if you are blood or if it is a blended family, without respect for each other you will have problems.
      Demanding respect from kids and from adults is the key, and sadly since we are just animals operating on a reptile brain it is necessary.
      Teaching empathy and insisting on respect is all we can do, and if you can’t get it then you have to either leave the situation or suffer with it.
      I left my family of origin in my late teens and my life has been much better for doing so.
      People speak of the hell of step-families, but when so many blood ties are alcoholics, or whatever their damage is, being with your birth parents is not always so grand either.
      In the end it is the family you choose to be with that matters, and those people should respect your boundaries and employ empathy and compassion if they want it in return.

    4. Sorry to hear of your situation . Sounds like you are being crushed in your famly heirarchy. It does interest me that you have commented on this blog purely because there seems to be so few forums for kids to voice their feelings., when there are an endless number self- congratulatory, head patting, we deserve respect – step parent forums. I guess this is hitting harder because the rejection seems to be coming from your mother. Can I ask where your dad is in all this?

  7. I think most people who read this article misunderstood it. Being a child of a blended family that went sour I can tell you what went wrong. My step dad always put his kids before my mother so much so that it felt like his eldest daughter was little wife number 1. I don’t mean that in an incest way but there would be times where she would pick out his clothes or make him lunch or try to act like the woman of the house. It was nauseating. My mom always went above and beyond for him and his children but she was always disrespected and put on the back burner. He failed to make it clear to his kids that my mother was his partner in everything and that her word was just as good as his…no negotiations. He needed to demonstrate to all of us that marriage is a partnership between spouses not between children. Now that my mother is single I feel that her happiness is the most important thing. If the children are in a loving, stable environment and are getting enough attention why shouldn’t parents put their emotional needs first? Let me tell you having a lonely and sad mother/father does not make for happy children. I don’t think the author was encouraging single people to drop their kids like a bag of bricks the minute someone calls for a date but to encourage single people to make uninterrupted time for themselves to date or do whatever else that is fulfilling to them without kids. Now that I’m in an adult relationship we tell each other that we as a loving partnership come first before the children. Children will grow up and leave you and then it’s just you and your partner all over again so it’s important to nurture that relationship while raising children.

    1. Thank you for an excellent, reasonable. post. I am in the process of ending a wonderful, loving 15 year relationship because my boyfriend’s 17 year old daughter decided she had to come out to live here and be a faux surfer girl. My boyfriend stopped calling or texting as much. We had been looking for a house in the desert for months and months. He finally found one and wanted us both to buy it. He just told me that he wanted to buy it on his own so “he could give it to his daughter if anything happened to him”. He then informed me that “she was here before me so she’s his priority”. I am heartbroken. I will never, ever date a man with children, young or grown, again.

      1. Oh man, Sarah. This is crazy. I’m not the hugest fan of couple’s therapy, but I wonder if a trusted third party could talk some sense into him?

        As for never dating a man with kids … careful not to stigmatize half the male population :)

      2. I’ve been dating a man for over 4 years. Unfortunately met him before his divorce was final, but have always been very supportive of his relationship with his ex and kids. He recently told me that he couldn’t take any vacation with me this Summer because he didn’t know when he was going to start building his “legacy house”, which I helped to design, etc. He needed to be home when he got the all go to put the shovel in the ground. Well, a couple of weeks later he booked a trip for 6 days to Arizona, which now turned into 9, to move his daughter back into her living arrangements at college, which was supposed to be the ex-wife’s job and was agreed upon by them since the moved her out in May. I am very hurt because I wasn’t even invited to go along, and he doesn’t have any intention of arranging a vacation for us even though he hasn’t started building the house. Also, he wants me to live with him in this “legacy house”, which would mean I would give up my well-paying secure job because I couldn’t commute from the new house. I pressed him to answer the question if anything happens to him where would that leave me? He said not in exactly these words, but that he is looking into purchasing other property in the area because the “legacy house” is for his daughters & their future families. He can’t understand why I’m so devastated.

        1. Hi Christine,

          Read my comment above yours. We are in very similar situations, I totally feel your pain and get it. My boyfriend of 15 years and I took a trip where we first went to look at the property he had just bought to be handed down to his trust fund daughter, then later that day drove around to look at a SECOND property for me to buy on my own but in the next town over. Thank God I didn’t buy anything. I am now planning on buying my own place at a later time, possibly in a foreign country. This business of putting kids from previous relationships FIRST and ahead of a current relationship….particularly a stable, long term relationship….is, quite simply, cruel. If a man cannot fully love both his kid and his new woman, he is NOT fit to be dating. I have better ways to spend my time than hurting as the second or third place woman. I truly wish you well.

  8. I agree completely with the author.
    It may sound harsh but like the previous writer said, marriage is a partnership between two adults. it is important for kids to see that as this in turn will teach them what a healthy relationship is about.
    Kids will move out, marry, have their own lives. All we have to do is be good teaches, good examples of healthy adult relationships. This will help them be happier and dare I say more fulfilled.

    1. One additional slant that has not been brought up here is that there really is no longer an expectation that kids will “grow up and move out”. My boyfriend kept saying, this will just continue until his daughter turns 18, but considering that she has no plans for college, smokes weed, has never held a job in her life and attends a private school where the students focus on knitting and crafts, I don’t see at which point she will “suddenly” become independent and grown up. I think a more likely scenario is that she will hook up with a guy, get pregnant, and that this cycle will continue for decades.

  9. Elyssa – I just wanted to say thank you for your comments. I recently very sadly came out of a relationship that was ended by a man who’s daughter acted the same way as you mentioned & who’s son just threw tantrums everytime he was at our house (he would refuse to eat the food that we cooked & would demand take aways etc which my x-fiance would alway give in to as he didn’t want his son to ‘go hungry’). He’s now decided he has to be on his own & focus on his 15 & 18 year old, while I’ve been left absolutely devasted. I too was in a blended family after my father died when I was 10 & my mum remarried & the only thing I wanted was my mum to be happy.

  10. Male partners are always complaining about lack of love from their wives or that their wives love their children more. However if a grown man feels this way when he is aware that he is second to the children, just think how the little children would feel knowing that their moms loved a grown man more than them. There have been reported cases of depression in kids stemming from this, and I myself have grown up with my mom loving strange men and even other people’s children more than me.

  11. This article is absulte crap the child should always come first and I’m speaking from experience what if your mother met some guy and treated you like crap afterwards and you was 12 years of age with no father how would you feel and then at the age of 16 your getting kicked out of the house for the husband is that really good parenting??

    1. The childs needs should be met and the children respected, but kids should to run the house or rule adult relationships.
      When parents let their kids act in the role of little wife or husband as far as making rules or running the show, it is both demeaning to adults, who work and pay for the whole thing, and it is bad for the children, who get the false idea that they are the center of the universe, which they are not.
      As long as they are treated with love and respect, and their are cared for, they should not be able to demand that the adults revolve around them.
      It is not healthy.
      Look at all the young people failing in the world because some guilty or lonely parent made their kid the center of the world and revolved around them. They can’t go out into the world and succeed if they are tied to the apron strings too tight, or never taught what good relationships look like.
      They are kids. Letting them run things is crazy.
      If you let them rule your life, why not let them eat all the junk food they want, stay up late all the time, and anything else they want?
      Adults need to have boundaries in order to teach kids how to respect boundaries.
      And if you can not make your partner in life your priority, do not date until you can. You can’t expect someone to devote themselves to you if you can’t give back the same.

        1. How can you agree when YOU come from a FAILED relationship You didn’t put into practicewhat yo ‘think’ or what you ‘think’ doesn’t work?

  12. I divorced when my children were in middle school. And my children DID come first. So, I did not date. I devoted myself exclusively to my children. It’s not that complicated.

    When men say, “My children come first!” that is honorable. Go on and raise them with gusto during this season. No regrets.

    But don’t try to get what you want from a woman without understanding her need to feel truly prioritized in your life as any soul mate would desire. Wait until you have more time. Successful relationships require a lot of WORK. It’s hard trying to figure all that out WHILE pouring all your energy into kids grades and extra curricular activities, their feelings and drama with their friends and teachers/coaches, all while trying to keep your career viable to be able to pay the mortgage and car notes so you can taxi them all over the place. That’s too much.

    I didn’t want any man of mine to NOT feel cherished and prioritized. So, I didn’t get on my soapbox and declare on a bullhorn, “My children COME FIRST!” I just put my children first. Period. And now I date WITH ABANDON! I love men. My college-aged kids better NOT say nothing but, “Thank you for paying this tuition.” This is MY season now. No regrets. And we have all have great relationships.

    1. JSy you are awesome!!! I couldn’t agree with you more. If you’re going to be a single parent, either do as you did and be a single parent, or make it clear to your partner that there is plenty of love to go around. I hope you land yourself a big fish, you deserve it!!!

  13. u didn’t chose your children but decided to have children. but think about children who neither chose their parents nor decided to be born. Now the problem with the family today is for your infidelity, mistrust, mental illness, abusive behaviour children have to pay the price. and at the time of your divorce u will tell your kids that ” we will always love u no matter what” and at the time of your date you tell your kids”he did not decide who I dated and when — that was my decision and my choice” at the time of your remarriage u will tell this broken kids ” it is ok not to be ok” and the time of your honeymoon u will keep yore children with someone because you are ashamed to include your children in your special moment . it is you who shown how to disrespect the marriage , not allowing them every moment of your life.After all this things you are expecting to get respected, to be loved so u are asking them to be mature, thats nice!!!!!!!!!!!!! i really don’t understand who need to be mature.
    your children are broken they are dying inside. look into their marriage life how they are doing. i hope they will not do the same mistake what u have done.But most of the cases this children became abusive towards their spouses the cycle will do on and on.
    U remarried because of your own physical and financial reason and so on. U divorced his/her bio parents for your own problem. if you feel u can provide and beautiful life to a child then bring child into this world other wise don’t . Nobody forced you or nobody can to have children if you don’t want to. if child life destroyed because of your stupidity and selfishness then u are only to be blamed. ” If the kids come first then why get remarried in the first place?” i can ask u another way– if marriage/remarriage is so important to u then why to bring a child into this world.

    1) child is not your marriage cement,not your marriage symbol,not your pets. it is your flesh and blood. don’t destroy your grand children life by destroying their patents life because u are the adult and mature you are the one who have to sacrifice don’t ask your child to sacrifice.
    2) Get remarried when your children are adult/independent and in this time only put your marriage first.
    3)I think u are good as a girlfriend/boyfriend but u don’t deserved to mother/dad. I am truly sorry for your child.

  14. I agree with putting your spouse first however, im looking for some advice/guidance for my situation which is….i divorced my husband exactly one year ago. Him & I have 2 children together a boy who is 4 years old & a girl who is 2 years old. I also have a 2 month old daughter with my current boyfriend. My current boyfriend has been around since my 2 YEAR old daughter was 5 months old however, we didnt start dating until i was divorced…my problem is that my boyfriend & my son (4 yrs old) do NOT get along or have any kind of bond at all but they use to up until my son realized that its no longer “mommy & daddy” & its now “mommy & rick” and my 2 year old daughter & my b/f get along so well and have an amazing bond! I have always put my son first & took up for him, “babied” him due to the fact that he makes me feel terrible & guilty. Is there any possibility of starting to put my relationship/spouse first NOW or is it too late? We’ve tried but we’re lost and not sure how to go about it!!! Please, any help and/or advice would be greatly appreciated.

    1. You are nothing but a common whore who should never have had and should not have any more children. Seriously your first child deserves better than you for a mother.

  15. I feel I have to share my experience of the last 4 years with you. I have been living with a man who has 4 daughters. A 24 year old, a 21 year old, a 9 year old and a 8 year old. He is 52 I am 41. When I first met my partner when he saw his older girls either together or separately he used to ask me to go home as the girls wanted to see him on their own. I stayed every other night. He used to share a bed with them. I found this totally wrong we had many rows over this. I felt he should of given up his bed for them and slept on sofa or they should not stay the night. He also has the younger girls every other weekend and the same thing happened, but I didn’t used to go home I used to stay on the settee and he slept with them in our bed. Every other night we made love in this bed. I felt very unhappy about this. I even spoke to social services For advice. They were very concerned and said this was not appropriate and if I gave his name they would contact the mum and my partner to say if he didn’t have appropriate beds for his children they shouldn’t stay. For the last 2 years this hasn’t happened and they sleep on the settee and I share his bed.
    I know my partner misses his kids all the time and can’t wai to see them. He really over compensates for this and they get away with blue murder. He gives them rules which they disobey and there is no consequence. Empty threats. I get so frustrated as I haven’t been brought up like this. On the few occasions he does tell them off they both cover their faces and burst in tears. He then forgets why he told them off in the first place and goes over the top making up for making them cry. They have no boundaries. We don’t smoke we hate it, but he lets his older girls smoke in the lounge. The curtains really smell when they go and it effects his asthma. They make such a fuss going outside so he gives in to them. No respect. They treat our home like a do what u want home. The oldest moved things round in the kitchen like tea coffee and sugar etc so I moved them back.
    The latest row we had was a few weeks ago, it was bank holiday and it wasn’t his weekend. My parents invited us over for a bbq. I thought excellent nice relaxing day we haven’t got the kids so we can relax. His ex asked if he wanted the kids sat day Sunday night and Monday of her weekend so he didn’t come to the bbq with me even though he and the girls were invited. So I had to go alone. I felt so upset he said if he gets any extra time with the girls he wants it as much as possible. He sees me everyday. I pointed out day to day is not the same as us having QUALITY time together. He reply was that his children will always come first over any woman he struggles with only seeing them 4 days a month. Whilst I can see this I truly can is it right to make me feel so worthless?
    His ex plays him like a violin, he just can’t see it. He gives her too much maintance for the money he gets and recently resulted in us being evicted from our home. She never turns up on time either dropping them off or picking them up. She says 6pm then we get a text saying she is still in London! The kids don’t leave till 8.30 sometimes, they have school next day I think this is unacceptable.
    Then it all goes back to normal till they come again.
    I think that there is a happy balance. I also think that some parents should also think how their actions are affecting their partners who every two weeks play and entertain children that are not theirs. Need to also remember there are two people in a relionship and not everything is about their children and their family, the other persons family is just as important.

  16. I would like to think that marriage demands that you love, and are devoted to your spouse. If you don’t have that, you don’t have a marriage. Certainly, children are to be loved and cherished, but to place the children above all other interests, makes the marriage meaningless. How could you go into a marriage wondering how much of their mother’s time you would be allowed to have? A major part of parenting is to model good behavior, which includes loving and respecting your spouse. What do you think children learn if they are calling the shots? They will learn that “me first” is their birth right. They will not learn to be considerate of others, and they will treat everyone, including their parents, as if they were servants.

  17. As the adult child of a mother who consistently put her boyfriends before her children ever since we were 12 and 8, I have to say: you have never been the child in a divorce, or you have only dated wonderful men. It is heartbreaking when your mother clearly cares more about some strange man than you. Some strange man who wants nothing to do with her kids, who doesn’t even care about -her-. You have never had to deal with being ditched by your mother for her boyfriend for no reason. He didn’t need her, they just decided to spend all day in bed rather than help you with whatever you really needed her help with. You have obviously never had a mother who would scream and yell at her eight year old children that they don’t want her to be happy simply because they might have hinted that they don’t like her boyfriend.

    You have one (or more!) failed relationship already. What makes you think this one will be better? Why is it worth the risk of damaging the relationship you have with your children? By all means, get out there, date, and enjoy yourself, but don’t for a second think he is more important than your children, because you will just drive them away. I want my mother to have a man who makes her happy, and yes I hope she has a wonderful sex life that I never hear about. But if I need her help, and she ditches me to watch movies with her boyfriend, don’t be surprised when I eventually stop calling.

    My dad has been in a relationship with the same woman ever since my parents first got divorced, and she is wonderful. They have both struck the balance between their relationship together and their relationship with their kids. That’s what it is, a BALANCE. Your dates are not more important than your kids,. They are differently important, but equally so.

    I realise you’re probably not talking about women like my mother, but when you say “you shouldn’t put your kids first”, I hope you realise that there are women like my mother who take that to heart in the wrongest way possible (I’m sure you do, but I’m having a bad day, obviously because my mother has let me down again. Sorry).

    1. Sorry to make a second comment but I feel the need to add… my problem with my mom is not just that she keeps letting my siblings and I down, but that she also keeps dating men that don’t respect her. Sorry to clog up your comments, I’m just frustrated today and all my friends have gone to bed, so I need to vent somewhere, anonymously.

      1. Hi Sam – I’m glad you shared your experience. As you say, this post is not aimed at women like your mom, who it sounds like will prioritize men above their kids to fulfill their own needs. What I see is so many single parents (and married ones for that matter) so afraid of being like your mom that they swing to the other extreme – to the detriment of a good relationship and the health of their family.

  18. I so relate to the article. I am in a 2 year relationship where I live with my partner who feels as if my 6 year old from a previous relationship runs the show. I view him as uptight, childishly argumentative with her, and non understanding. I also feel like we moved in too quickly before really thinking about how these dynamics should work healthily and what it means to be in a partnership with our specific situation.He provides housing for us as he makes exponentially more than I do and is constantly resentful that I cannot pay rent and that my income goes toward my daughters private school. Meanwhile, I am starting my own business, attending school, doing a lot of odds and ends just to buy food and gas. I am resentful that he cannot assume financial responsibility for a bit so that I can find a life balance that allows me to be a contributing partner emotionally financially and otherwise. I now sleep in my daughters room in the extra twin bed because we cannot seem to make it through a day without an anger explosion. Its time for me move on and I can’t really afford to. So the lesson here for me was to not introduce too soon when dating and make sure things are really a relaxed fit before moving in. In my case there isn’t enough love left to try.

    1. Thanks for sharing, Carmen — I really appreciate how reflective you are — not blaming and taking responsibility. Lessons learned, onward and upward.

  19. i was perusing the internet looking for an article on single parents and dating. i had not looked at things this way. since my divorce almost 3 years ago i have had 2 dates that ended badly and just gave up. I have been so wrapped up in my sons life that i have forgotten that i need one to. I can agree that it’s healthy and necessary to put your needs first sometimes. Happy mommy happy kid right? After reading this i dont feel bad about the needs and wants i have and wanting to pursue them.

  20. Dated a man with kids and I will NEVER do it again. It’s amazing to me people with no kids want to date those w/o the same baggage. How dare you come in my life, want to date me and want me to accept being a second class citizen out the gate. HECK NO!

  21. I think people should stop thinking about it as a blended thing just on this topic alone. I know easier said than done BUT when a ‘still married with same kids couple’ maintains their relationship, usually it is because they stay on the same page. You can only put your significant other first with most things, some times the kids need to come first, again BUT, it is definitely a Parent Against Kids affair in any case, weather you are a ‘still married with same kids couple’ or dating someone with kids. The parent with kids, one or both, need to understand this concept and things roll on pretty darn good during those times…. its when one forgets and feels and makes the statement “well I don’t care…. that’s MY kid” when the time bomb blows up. Just food for thought and the decision should be made prior to entertaining the idea of a relationship with anyone. You MUST make a decision if you can or are willing to handle another WITH KIDS …. PERIOD. If you are not willing then begins the landslide…. again this is with both parties having a mutual understanding that it is us/you against kids…. not to be mean but even in a stay together family – this is the only strategy that works !! Enough babble – hope whoever reads can understand ….. ThanX

  22. I disagree with this article completely. I have a mom who always put her husband first. I moved out at 16 and our relationship never recovered. And guess what? She’s still unhappy in her crappy relationship with her husband. She says she regrets putting her husband first. It’s too late. I’m 26 and never moved home. Damage was done.

  23. You are SO wrong. People who think like you, both men and women, are what is ruining society. It is hard enough for children to watch their families be torn apart. When someone new is introduced into the mix, they need to be reminded by mothers and fathers that they, their biological responsibility, the children they chose to have and raise within a family unit, are their most important concern until they reach an age where they are on their own. This doesn’t mean you can’t love your new significant other, but any new man or woman worth their salt will understand the importance of considering their children’s wellbeing above all else. Child psychology will back this up. Children from broken families do worse in school, have more anxiety, and the list goes on. This is likely because of selfish parents who handle it wrong. I grew up in a together family and watched as my friends had to endure mistreatment at the hands of step parents who were downright jealous and cruel to them. I watched as one selfish mother trotted man after man into the home (note: this is when female children are the most vulnerable to sexual abuse – especially the mother is bringing home men she met online! Predators look for single women with children) and they never had stability. They were miserable. The narcissism and selfishness of this generation knows no bounds. This article disgusts me.

  24. This is a difficult topic to approach and you are brave to do so. So many valid points on both sides. As a child of divorce my father had other women to which i detest today for just making me one of the clan who came over for holidays and never allowed me to build a relationship with my dad. My mother abstained from any relationship for 15 years until i moved out and i had no male role models whatsoever. Now my 3 young girls are first on my life as their mum walked out. She left me not knowing who i was after 10 years of working long hours for my family. I was either working or with my family. I am slowly at 5 years working back to me and realise we need time for us, family, partner and each child. Quite a juggling act. I have tried the focus on relationship side, maybe i need to do more. But it tears me apart when my girls get close to someone and it all falls apart. I thought i found someone until yesterday. My 10 yr old broke down and told me how she has been so sad for so long amd she wants to kill herself. I wrapped her up in a big hug while on the verge of tears to take her home. I dound my gf as we were at a fete and explained what happened and i was going home with my kids to support my eldest. The response was a cold and angry “oh that’s bullshit she just doesn’t want to be around me”. That crossed the line and i ended it right there. I guess i haven’t found the right person who has the same balance of values morals and understanding as me. Isn’t that what we are looking for in the end despite our views or where we sit on a topic like this.

  25. I agree that putting your relationship first is the right thing to do…BUT your children shouldn’t feel left out. I am happily married for the second time and about to have my 2nd child with my new husband, it would be my 4th overall. I have 2 girls from my previous marriage. In our home, the girls know that they are just as important as their stepfather and half siblings. Their needs te met, if they have a problem we address it together as a parental unit. We do many things as a family and of course we take time to ourselves as a couple. The kids don’t feel like they are second to our relationship. It’s a good balance. On the other hand, when the girls are w their dad (only every other weekend) they do whatever his girlfriend wants to do. He puts them at the bottom of the totem pole completely. If his girlfriend doesn’t want to go out, they don’t go anywhere. The girls spend the weekend sitting in front of the tv, playing video games and eating whatever crap he feeds them while he’s on the couch with her watching a movie. If they do go out with their fathers girlfriend, she barely says hello or speaks to them. To my ex, that is fine, that is normal. Maybe in the beginning, but it after a year and a half? No I don’t think that’s normal. It’s like she resents my children for existing. On the off chance that she’s not around and he takes them out, it’s never just the three of them, he brings his mother along to help him. My children are 9 & 7, he doesn’t need that much help, they are self reliant. My girls feel like their dad only cares about his girlfriend and only want to things with her. If I can’t take one of them to the doctor, it’s only natural for me to ask my ex to take them, but he NEVER does. He’s always too busy, too far, or to whatever. He tells me to call my mother-in-law. Like if she’s an extension of him somehow. I rely only on my current husband. He will drop anything for anyone of our kids. It saddens me that my girls don’t get the same treatment from their dad. But of course, if his girlfriend or her daughter need something, he leaves work, church, walk through fire, a lions den, anything to be able to help them. I’m not saying he shouldn’t give his partner importance, he should, but he shouldn’t disregard or discount his children to do it.

    1. Hi, my name is Amber and I found your take on this article very interesting b/c the things you wrote sound a lot like how I imagine my s/o’s ex wife perceives our relationship as a couple, my relationship with their two daughters, and his with them as well. I write to you now, not to antagonize – but perhaps to gain a little perspective into the bio mom’s POV as well as to maybe offer you some perspective into the thoughts and feelings of the “other woman”.
      I of course don’t know any of you personally so I can only speak on the minor details you have shared here.
      First a little back story….

      I am a 31 year old woman. I am divorced but I have no children of my own. My partner is 9 years my senior, divorced, with two daughters: 11 & 15 he has 50/50 custody. We have lived together for 3 years. My s/o’s ex wife is remarried to a man that has a grown son and a 6 year old daughter – they also have a baby together.

      Now on to the meat and potatoes…

      I found it interesting that you said that in your home your girls know that they are just as important as the step father and the half siblings and that if there is a problem you address it as a family unit. The girls don’t feel like they are second. That is all great and as it should be (in both homes) ! Then you move on to say that when the girls are with their father they do whatever the girlfriend wants to do and if she doesn’t want to do anything they sit and watch TV.

      Is that accurate or is this what your girls are telling you?

      Again, I don’t ask to be negative, but in my very similar position I can tell you that perception is a B*tch.

      Let me tell you – the first few years around my parts were a breeze; an 8 year old and a 12 year old? Psh…. piece of cake. Then one of them became a teenager- and took the other metaphorically with her. All of a sudden I was to blame for everything.

      For example: the eldest wanted dad to take her to a rock concert on a school night. After deliberating on it for weeks he finally determined the answer was no. She blamed me. I had absolutely nothing to do with, but she blamed me. Dad is the cool rocker guy there’s no way he would’ve said no if it weren’t for me right? When big sis got mad at me, little sis followed suit – I was the bad guy.

      Sometimes its a simple day to day occurrence that’s really petty: girls want to go to the mall on a Saturday, I have an appointment until noon so dad says, “lets wait until we can all go as a family” I come home to grouchy girls who think everything is about me- when in actuality it was my s/o’s decision to wait and he wanted to wait because he is trying to strengthen us as family.

      And truth be told I’ve heard similar tales come from the girl’s mouths about their mother’s husband as well. I cringe when they regale us with mean things about their step dad because I know in the other house – its my name on their lips. The girl’s mom has told my s/o that she and the girls think he puts me before them- which sent him spiraling into a pit of guilt – understandably. I don’t think he puts me first, he doesn’t either- but because his girls perceive it that way … it is so.

      It is so easy for the bonus parent to be the scapegoat – its so much easier to be mad at one of us than the bio parent.

      I do want to applaud you for allowing your current husband to be your equal in your home together. As the “bonus” parent I do not feel like I have a voice when it comes to important matters. I can wash their dirty underpants, cook for them, monetarily support the household but I am not respected as any type of parent by any of them. My s/o tells me to stand up for myself if they start getting mouthy or rude, if they need to pick up after themselves- tell them! But when I do, I’m not the mother, I made a rude face when I said it, I sounded mean. I feel constantly scrutinized and picked apart. Not just by the girls but my s/o as well – he can tell me to go ahead and stand up for myself until he’s blue in the face but when I practice it- he doesn’t like it.

      I’m not trying to make this a pity party and again I don’t know the woman who your girls spend their time with but speaking from the step”monster role; I love both of my s/o’s girls but often feel like they could care less about me. I get my feelings destroyed on a regular basis- they can be so loving and so sweet – just not generally to me. I feel like a stranger in my home when they are with us and I so frequently am ignored or given the cold shoulder that I am ashamed to admit I don’t always initiate in depth conversations with them anymore – I’m almost …afraid of them… or not them as much as their rejection.

      I truly hope that in your situation at the very crux of it, all of the adults want the same thing: happy, comfortable, well-adjusted children and that you are all able to work together to accomplish that. I know that’s what I hope and pray for everyday.

      Best of Luck!

  26. I’m honestly very glad there are many people who agree with my views on relationship versus children. Although, I believe children are extremely important, I think if you’re in a committed relationship, you should put your potential wife/husband first, with your kids a close second.
    My boyfriend of almost two years now have just moved in together. We get his two girls every other weekend. They are sweet kids, but their level of respect they treat adults with is terrible. They argue, talk back, scream, and order adults to do their bidding. And when they do this to me, my boyfriend does nothing. I feel as though he couldn’t care less about how they treat me. It’s a really bad strain on our relationship, and I’m reaching a breaking point. I’ve tried talking to him about it, and it seems nothing is changing. In fact, I was just kicked out of our bedroom last night because his youngest wanted to sleep with him. So I was moved to the living room. Maybe I am just pitying myself, but I’m really upset. He would rather let his child take my place when he sleeps.

  27. This must be were my mom received her parenting advice. She is now happily married to a man that hates kids. However, she feels as though her dating life does not have anything to do with us, her children. Your children will spot someone that’s not right for you before anyone else, because they know you. In the beginning, he was perfect. The all around family man that makes everyone feel welcomed. Once they were married he was more open about cheating and his distaste for kids. Keep up the advice it will help these women have a wonderful relationship and disowned from their kids lives.

  28. My dad was the same when it came to my stepmother – he put her and their relationship first. My sister and I were never neglected and our needs were always met. Our mum died when we were really young but our parents had already been divorced. He was the best dad a kid could have and he gave us the best childhood. He always made it clear that she was his wife and we were to treat her with respect as the adult/mother figure in our home. My sister didn’t like her and she made it clear. She made life hell for the both of them and my dad always stood by my stepmom and in my sisters eyes this was the ultimate betrayal. By age 17 she moved out and swore she’d never speak to my dad ever again. Its been 14 years since they last spoke or saw each other and she’s now married and has a family. He and my stepmom are still together which I admire. There’s some sadness in his voice whenever he talks about my sister, which breaks my heart. He has tried reaching out to her a number of times only to have ” YOU MADE YOUR CHOICE, NOW LIVE WITH IT ” thrown back in his face. My dad had the same “Kids grow up and move out so my needs and wants should come first” mentality and this is true, kids do grow up and leave the nest but how sure are you that they wont want anything to do with you?. I’ve tried talking to my sister but she’s so stubborn. He missed out on walking her down the aisle and he may never get a chance to meet his grand children ( aged 9 and 6). All my dad did was put his wife first and that cost him a daughter.

  29. I never imagined how many ppl actually go through situations like this. Makes me not feel “alone”. Let me share my story, and all the input I can get would be really helpful as I feel like I’m losing it! I have been living w/my bf for a little over 2 years. He was with his ex for 15 yrs and had 2 boys-a now 14 year old and an 8 yr old. I came out of a bad relationship too. I have a now 5 yr old daughter from this relationship. Once I started dating my bf, his ex started telling his boys that he wanted to kill them (have an abortion), that he didn’t want them, that he did DNA test on them, that he was going to treat me like a queen when he treated her like crap, that they didn’t have to respect me or like me, not to be nice to me, etc. They left each other when she decided to move out b/c she found her “past lover”. My bf got with her after she got pregnant with his first. When my bf first moved in (my house), he had quit talking to his oldest b/c his oldest decided not to be around him b/c he “had a girlfriend he did not like”. The youngest came w/daddy all the time regardless of what the mother poisoned them with. I respected him for that. My bf continued being a great dad-tried going to baseball games even though his oldest ‘demanded’ he not be there. He always asked if I was going somewhere when he was invited and if I was, he wouldn’t go. His youngest got a cell phone when school started. The oldest constantly asked for one. The ex would send me messages on social sites telling me they still had their “something something” going on, etc. I doubt that happened. After everything she has done to those kids, I’d think so less of my bf for even trying to be w/some1 like her. His oldest decided to come around so he could get a cell phone, clothes, etc. The mother, I must say, does nothing for these kids financially. She goes weeks w/o picking them up. The oldest has decided to not stay at my house (which I’m thankful for), he stays at his g-mas. The youngest stays with us. I must also mention that I have a 5 month old baby girl with my bf. The oldest once apologized to me for being disrespectful and I was “ok” with him being around, but our relationship never was good. I couldn’t stand him, nor could he stand me. While playing recently, I pushed the youngest a little-his father was there & was actually the one that said “get him, push him back”. He went and told his mother I hit him & of course, this woman now decided to be the mother of the year and text my bf calling me a dumb “b” and every other word in the dictionary. I called & confronted her. The oldest called me a B on the phone, she was so proud of her son for doing that. My bf was very upset, disconnected his phone and basically sent his son to hell, but than told me that I had to accept the younger one back in my home or he was leaving me. I do not want my baby around these kids so I’m letting a few things go-they are very cold-hearted kids. I have come to believe that the oldest doesn’t love his father-he only uses him for what he can get out of him. I feel like my boyfriend is willing to lose everything-a good woman and a happy life for his daughter in hopes that he’ll get his oldest to love him one day. My bf has informed me that he will be going away on weekends to spend time w/his boy and I will not be welcome to come b/c his son does not like me and vise versa. There was no other discipline and when he decides to come around again, he’ll be welcome and the subject will never be brought up to him. I don’t expect that he choose between his kids and I, I do expect him to discipline his kids to the point they understand I am his partner, the mother of his baby and the woman who welcomed them w/open arms until they started falling for their moms games. I feel like I’m in a touch situation. I have made felt so insignificant and the one that will lose it all if his kids decide to disrespect me again b/c as he said, if it happens again, he’ll pack his stuff and leave. I am a good woman. I have breakfast and lunch packed for this man, clean and folded clothes, etc. I fear that these boys will be around my oldest (which is nothing to them). I cannot allow them in my home, God forbid they do something to her. I cannot stand the fact of me leaving the boyfriend to be able to live a peaceful life and my baby be around these kids who only want to cause me problems. Aren’t they at the age they should understand? Any suggestions…


  31. Here’s a note to all, there’s a way to put your woman first, and still put your kids first… it’s called managing time correctly. …….I’ve lived it and I’ve dealt with it… long enough to know that yes, your kids come first, but, not over everything, they shouldn’t be allowed to make rules or adjust any situation in the household, a man shouldn’t allow his kids to come completely over his girlfriend, but there’s a proper place and time for it………..and of a woman can’t handle a little attention away from her for a small fraction of time, then she needs help, especially if she has kids of her own….

  32. You are referencing some pretty extreme examples. If I had kids and the relationship didn’t work, any woman would have to understand my kids would always outrank her, each situation would have to be evaluated – I mean, no, I would not leave a date because my tween had an argument with his coach, but say for example it is Christmas and my new spouse wants me to go spend it with her family as opposed to keeping a tradition I had with my kids, she is going to lose that one for sure, and if she can’t accept that then I’ll just stay single.

    Suggesting she should be an equal to my kids is flat out crazy, they are my flesh and blood, girlfriends can come and go. I must say if I was kid I would find your mentality very unsettling to say the least and it would seriously damage the way I looked at you as my mother.

    I haven’t read “The Book of Love”, but I wonder, was she speaking of married biological parents, or single moms out dating? I also don’t think most people are condemning anyone for enjoying sex, for Pete’s sakes stop walking around with this silly persecution complex, if you enjoy sex I’d even say it’d be better for you to go have a physical relationship on the side and leave your kids out of it rather than get serious with a man who you are going to shove your kids aside for whenever there’s a conflict between the two.

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