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.


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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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326 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. I TOTALLY AGREE with you. We have ONE chance at raising our kids right!!! We will ALWAYS be our kids parents but we may not always be our lovers partner. When our kids see that we care and devote more time to someone else more than them which are our OWN flesh and blood, then resentment and hatred can creep in. Now you may start to hate and resent your partner so everyONE loses. I can’t love someone who doesn’t love and respect my kids. Children are very resilient but feeling the abandonment of a parent or both parents has LIFETIME REPERCUSSIONS. Sacrifices must be made for the betterment of the child or children because they will be grown and out the house quick enough so we can then find someone to be our partners and thats when its appropriate to put that person first and ONLY to a certain extent then. Best wishes to all!!!

            1. Not true at all. If I can have more than one child and still love them all equally and have room in my heart and life to be sure that they all get what they deserve I am capable of doing the same for the man in my life as well. It’s about balance.

            2. That’s a two way street… people with children should rather not date single people, if they do, it is also their job to then help the single person to adjust to a lifestyle with children… but then also the single person should also realise that they are jumping into a relationship with children… both parties need to be mature and work together… giving each other time to be alone together… not everything is about the kids… most things are though… but not everything… I know, I’ve been down this road already… and I found that I needed to love the children as if they were my own… I’ve had to work very hard .. and I succeeded.. because WE wanted to succeed, otherwise don’t get involved. It was tough for the first year… learning about the children, setting boundaries and what I would have done had they been my flesh and blood children… once over that hurdle you begin to be a parent and you do need to make time for each other… them, you and her/him… it’s not easy at first, but it does get easy once you are all on the same page. WORK… WORK… WORK… and the rewards come. If you are that serious…

            3. I very much do not agree with Tam. If a parent dates a single person without children they might have room in your heart for that single person. But that single person gives you their whole entire heart. Their heart all yours, no sharing, no compensating and no restrictions. It’s not enough to just give them a part of you because there happens to be some extra room in your heart next to the children. Not even close to enough! Single parents sould just stick with dating other single parents instead of feeling they have the right to take someone else’s happiness away just to cater to their own.

            4. Again, really a limited view on the capacities of the human heart. Lots and lots of stories that suggest all kinds of people can successfully partner — to the benefit of all parties involved.

            5. It’s not a limited view on the capacities of the human heart. It’s reality. Being someones one and only is very different from being just another face in the crowd that needs time and attention.

              I’m not questioning the ability to love more people at one time. I’m questioning the ability to show that love. You only have 1 sunday every week, you only have 1 summer holiday and 1 christmas and 1 birthday each year. A childfree person will spend those times with their partner, working on their relationship, strengtening that bond and show the love that is felt. The partner who has children needs to divede their time and attention. It’s just plain and simple, we have limited resourcers.

              You might love your partner as much as any other person does, I don’t doubt that. But you can’t show it in a sufficient way. Don’t kid yourself by pretending that does not hurt the childfree person because studies show it does in 100% of the cases. Every single study on the subject shows people would have been happier in their relationships if the partners children had not been there.

            6. I date a man with a child and he puts me first. He recognizes that in order for the system to function, he must put his partner’s needs before his child’s and in doing so we have an excellent dynamic where I feel appreciated and his son feels loved by both of us and adores spending time with us. It’s also a great example to show the child because he sees us always making an effort to communicate with each other about parenting decisions and anything else.

            7. I disagree. I’ve dated women with children and we were able to schedule our time to coincide with when her ex had the kids, or she would get a babysitter. If the other person always has the kids, it may mean getting a babysitter or arranging for the child to do a sleepover at a friend’s house. Seeing the parent being happy is good for children, as long as the child isn’t being ignored.

            8. Exactly! I learned my mistake the hard way. Was in a 10 year plus relationship with my bf who has two kids of his own. We have no children of our own. At this point I’m just so exhausted with everything that entails being a step parent I really have no interest of having children of my own. I’m a 32 female too. I will probably never date another single father, even if I have to be alone for the rest of my life. Good luck to everyone.

          1. Thank you for being such a amazing voice of reason. So many needy, insecure women here feeling like they have to compete with a child. It’s sickening.

          2. You are correct. This IS what happens when a stranger is put before the child. I no longer speak to my mother after she started this behavior when we were all ADULTS. Think of my resentment had she done this when I was a kid!?

            1. Thank you! This is exactly what I am trying to avoid in my current relationship. My daughters’ father abandoned them years ago and I refuse to do that also.

          3. I was a devoted single mother of two son’s. Always put them ahead of dating or anything onyone else in my life. Today, both boys are well educated, have great jobs, and are both married. Also, they are such dedicated husband’s to their respective spouses and their spouses family’s, they place me last in their lives. I used to be very close to both son’s prier to their getting married, and was close to the wives also. However, all that has changed and they, especially my older don (30), see,’s his inlaws weekly, but never makes time to visit or come to my home when invited for dinner. Of course, I always ask their spouses just as I would my son’s. As I have been told many times “when boys get married, the inlaws gain a son. And, his mother loses a son.” So unfortunate, but true in many cases such as mine. I gave my children my love, time, attention, and care; I was also their sole bread winner in ourhousehold. They never went w/o anything they needed, and we traveled annually outside the state we lived, and did famy outings most every weekend.

            1. Ann it did upset me a lot to read what has happened to you. My mum was very close to me and I was the one trying to support her while ill for few years, and the last holding her hands as she was leaving. I think it is important for ourselves to be able to say “I have done everything I could”. We all know good actions are often forgotten .

              Keep strong.

            2. Ann,

              You are making a valid point and the other people who commented on your grammar are cruel. Yours son’s behavior is a warning to many people including myself.

            3. good for you , singlemother hood should be out lawed ..the father is the rightful leader of the family

          4. I’m a single woman without kids and my fiancée has three daughters – two grown (& living out of state) and one 7 year old. He has his youngest part time. I love her dearly, but I don’t have a close bond with her. i’ve had to tell him I expected to sit in the front seat in his truck and not in the back. That did change shortly after I expressed my frustration, but I shouldn’t had to ask to sit in the front seat. I grew up with parents, grandparents, and friends whose parents stayed married. Never did the parents place the kids above the spouse (or another adult for that matter). I believe this is just leading to entitlement issues and done out of guilt in his case. I always felt love from my parents and I knew one parent wouldn’t override the other parent to side with me or my brother. They would discuss and then decided. From my experience I see that dads are big softies and give into their kids’ every wish. This is the line I’m walking – my fiancée would do most anything for his daughter. She is a smart and for the most time well behaved child. I just don’t have the motherly instinct for her. Plus, she has a mom and I don’t want to take that place. However, if I’m going to be put in the back seat or not made a priority then I’m not so sure I’m cut out for step kids. With that said my fiancée does love me, but I don’t think he realizes the toll it is taken on me. I’m not expecting him to choose to love me more, but I do expect to be a top priority. Right now I’m a close second with his ex wife , but after three years this might be closely increasing…. Oh wait, no it isn’t. He moved her and she didn’t have enough room so it’s now in his living room and garage. Hmm… not sure why I’m still around, except I do feel he loves me, but his actions are lacking the love.

          5. I agree but only slightly because no mother should put there child..second to any man or no man should put his child before any woman.. This generation has changed..it’s not the same like how it was back in the day..there are millions of kids who get abused sexual harassed or who end up dead or kidnapped…all because of the lack of attention parents give…to there own seed..all because the mother wants attention that she never had from a man..it’s ok to date n get out there but it’s never ok or safe to interduce your kids to plp you date..but with so much going on in the younger generation it’s important to pay close close attention to your child first..because most kids don’t speak up for themselves for a mother to know what’s really going on with there child my point is it’s ok to have fun as single mother but always pay attention to your kid and put no man or woman before you kid no kid should be second Ever!! Otherwise don’t lay down spreading your wings and poppin a baby out you V if your not wanting to be a full time single parent.. It’s sickening to choose to a whore over being a parent first..but who ever the bloggers that wrote this hopefully your child don’t end up put you second when you can no longer do for yourself and need help of the return from your kids. Think about it..

        2. Your post makes no sense. Learn some grammar. Also, you r not looking for a mature woman. U are looking for a woman who is willing to accept that she is not important to you. There is a big difference. Good luck with that. May I suggest finding one who was raised like u are raising your kids. She should already be acquainted with the idea that women are disposable, as u are teaching your children.

        3. I think you’re projecting, dude. No self-respecting woman is going to want to date somebody who sees them like that. You have a crappy attitude. If you want to model a bad relationship for your kids where you treat your girlfriend as a third wheel, you should just let her go. Nobody is winning there, especially not your kids. Your boys will grow up thinking it’s okay to belittle women, girls will grow up thinking they should be treated like you’re treating your girlfriend.

          (And maybe incorporate some punctuation in your next rant.)

        4. This is one of the BEST articles on this subject I have ever read! Thank you for clearly communicating what I have been trying to explain for too long! My goal a a single Mom, is to meet a man that really gets this. In their defense, men are riddled with guilt about being a great parent however, what I have experienced is a cultural shift from a ‘hands-off’ Dad to an overcompensating, smothering one….not attractive and so unintentionally harmful to the very children they are trying to care for!

          1. “I have experienced is a cultural shift from a ‘hands-off’ Dad to an overcompensating, smothering one….not attractive and so unintentionally harmful to the very children they are trying to care for!”

            Wow – so true, really great observation! Future blog material, that!

            1. Absolutely true. My ex smothers our son like Tiger Wood’s dad did to Tiger Woods….constantly making him practice basketball, baseball or football. Quizzes him about the game (any and all 3) like our son is a monkey at a circus!!! Trying to live the dream thru his son that he missed for whatever reason. I try to add the balance by encouraging him to build lego’s or I give him some of my paint brushes and he paints with me! I just became engaged after being divorced from my son’s dad for 2 1/2 years. My fiance is respectful of my son’s father and has offered to meet so he can reassure him that he has no desire to replace him as a father and that he is more of an uncle figure. My son’s father says, no way I don’t ever care to meet that guy. ” (he knows his first name but immaturely refuses to refer to him by that). Which makes no sense to me…I’d want to know everything about someone my ex was going to marry! If she’s going to be around my son …I would absolutely want to meet her. BUT….my ex who was emotionally abusive to me for 10 years…. is now suddenly the victim. lol He is acting in front of everyone to try and cast me as a bad mom because I chose to extricate my son and I before I totally sunk into deep depression. My son’s father is 46 years old and I am 45 years old….but in terms of emotional age, he’s like 17. In the process of dating this wonderful man, I had no sleep overs, I introduced him to my son at a Panera Bread and as my friend only. We met to play at a bounce house and i slowly increased the time. Now my son runs into his arms and screams…I missed you…let’s go build something (my fiance is very handy and teaching him to use tools etc.). There is an appropriate way to do dating after divorce. I also received guidance from my therapist who I continue to see every 3 months. Oh, yes the ex hasn’t gone to his therapist since I left.

        5. Dear William, I tried to read you message, but it was very difficult to follow as you have not used any punctuation. You just went off on a rant. If you want people to sympathize with your feelings, perhaps you should put a little more effort into expressing them. Otherwise you just sound like a cry baby tool.

        6. Wow, William. It sounds like instead of blasting Emma, you should be working on – or ending – your relationship, and brush up on the structure of a sentence.

      2. Agreed. While yes, a strong and healthy marriage provides a strong backbone for a family, kids who have been through something as traumatic as divorce should most definitely come first in their parent’s lives, before their dating life. My siblings and I were unfortunately put last before my mom’s dating needs, this meant ditching us at dad’s so she could go on a date. This rips kids apart and the state of our relationship now as adults with our mother, clearly speaks volumes. If you decided to put them on this earth, it is your responsibility to ensure their needs are met before your own.

      3. Not only is this article poorly written, lacking in strong evidence, and oddly stating that mothers are penalized for sexuality, but it is also insulting to men.
        Through dull anecdotes the writer tries to convince us that it is healthier to put a lover before their children. The author uses terms such as ” putting first” but fails to realize that there is no need to put anyone first, or second, or third. Romantic love is completely different from the love you have for a child. While making time for romantic love is important, putting a lover “first” over the creature that came out of your body, the one you would die for, is completely ridiculous.
        You get one shot at being a decent parent. You have hundreds of shots to date. Hang up the push up bra, put away the lace thong, and remember, men will always be there, however your children will not.

        1. Yes, they will not be there and you have to make your future spouse feel just as equal. It is not their fault you divorced. it is your failure and only yours.

          1. Jennifer and mom_be_trippin,

            As a 45 yr old divorced dad of two teen daughters, I seriously question your motives. It sounds like you try to take ownership of your kids’ feelings…like you are in charge of their happiness. Kids that lash out when they don’t get enough attention is because they lack a HEALTHY level of independence and self-esteem. Always putting them first does NOT help build self-esteem, it supports UNHEALTHY independence on others – in your case, dependence on you. What happens when they turn 18, and they’re expected to live on their own? I completely agree with the author that modeling a healthy, prioritized partnership with your significant other, whether that person is the biological parent or otherwise, shows kids that they need to learn to be in charge of their own health and happiness. Of course, this depends on the age of the children, but teens that are approaching independence will learn a lot from seeing their single parent prioritizing themselves TO SOME EXTENT. I’m not suggesting at all to ignore the kids, but they should not be calling the shots by always expecting to come first, or WORSE… being told they come first. That is what breeds selfishness in our kids.

    2. My bf does not believe in this. We are together 6 years now, I never met his kid, only in the 6th year I met his family, his ex says she does not want the kid near me, and neither him nor her wants me meeting the kid. For his birthday, he is saying again, I cannot be invited, because the kid is planning it, a 9 year old Kid, I suggested that since I never got invited, I can come in the evening, he said no, the kid would have things planned for the evening too…..My gosh! Life is great yes, love this man, and do not know how to deal with this frustration!!!!

      1. It sounds to me like his ex is jealous and that may be her reason for not wanting you around the kids. I have been with my boyfriend for a year now he’s much older than me, I hate saying that bc it’s totally irrelevant to us but it does matter to society. But my actual point is we live together for about 6 months now and I have met his kids and get along great with them but when they come to the house I leave bc I know how much their time with dad means. So it does seem a little strange to me that you still haven’t met his kid. I’m 26 and my boyfriend is 55 his kids are 20, 19 and 15 so it was awkward no doubt the first time we met and when they first found out about me and my age but it’s necessary in a relationship that both people believe in.

        1. Im also 26 and my partner is 52 weve been together for 3 years. He has 2 kids, both teenagers. Although at times they make me feel like utter rubbish, it would feel strange if my partner didn’t introduce us. He was very wary for a while and tried to play down our relationship when they were around. Dating a man with children is probably the hardest thing i’ve ever done in my life its even harder as his kids are spoiled and rude. Having said all of that, I would be extremely angry if i hadn’t had been introduced. I think if it is making you feel so down you may have to really question as to if the relationship is worth feeling like that as hes not opening up all of his world to you.

            1. Jennifer, I’ve noticed how judgmental you are in so many of your comments. Get over yourself and visit your own therapist!!

      2. Smally get out! six years and your relationship hasn’t progressed, how much longer do you have to wait before your life with him can actually begin! I’m sorry but hes being selfish to just expect you to hang around in the background til it suits him x

    3. Take note that somehow this story has been twisted from being about single parents to being about single fathers that neglect women… key into a search engine anything about single parent and you will find the majority of information available is for women. Unfortunately most discussions end up becoming a rant session for women that feel hard done by.

        1. Not by our own choice are we absentee fathers!!
          I call absentee fathering , every other weekend and 3 hrs on Wednesday . Oh, throw in a few ball games where you sit in the stands and “watch ” your kids but have no contact with them after. The court system seems to think this is just sufficient time to be a good father, couple that with an ex wife who just wants you to disappear and it’s a disaster , and I’ll catch hell for this , but I’m going to say 90% of “parental alienators” are woman. I’m just tired of divorced Dads being demonized .

          1. It is women that have desroyed the American family. Hell, only a woman could decide to abort a baby. Only a woman can cheat and then still get the house, the kids, alimony, child support. Only women. Selfish, greedy, whorish, narcissistic women are responsible for all of these single parent families. 70% of no fault divorce cases are initiated by women for no reason at all other then their own weekness and a wife and mother. You worthless wretches dont deserve a real man.

    4. My sister was a single mom of two children and married the guy of her dreams. He molested her girls and she told them to forget it happened because she did not want to lose her husband. Husband was convicted of molestation and she moved on two man number 2 while she lost custody of her girls for covering it up. My niece committing suicide due to her mother putting her children second and the man first. Sister ended up marrying another man and wanted nothing to do with the other two kids conceived with the molestor. The kids again were in her way of finding happiness with a man. She would constantly drop the kids off so with my mother so she can have alone time with new man while we grieve over my neice. Ladies, a real man will accept you and your children. If u have to push your kids to the side for a man think about my neice cutting her wrist and dying of a broken heart. God bless you all.

    5. This blog is incorrect advice. This how children’s lives get ruined at the expense of adult relationships. The real issue is that single parents should never be put in a position where they have to prioritise children over girlfriend and vice versa. If it doesn’t work in a marriage or relationship post divorce then it never will, kids or no kids. People just need to relax and stop being so dependent on their own self importance.

    6. My soon to be ex wife would agree with this! I do not! She has already moved a stranger into her home, she met him online and the day they met he moved in. My girl she a room with mom though, this is wrong! I already knew her children before we got together but was still unsure about moving in. I did move in after a while as the outsider, but the kids seen that I helped focus mom on them and the needs they had! We were together for 9 years and had 2 girls together. I swear my girls will come first before anyone else, a relationship would be nice but my first priority is the happiness of the 2 girls! Of course mom asked them dont you want mommy to be happy? That is wrong, what kind of bs is she trying to teach my girls? Mommy needs a man in her bed to be happy! I think there’s a right way to go about being a single parent trying to date and a wrong way and putting the kid’s second is wrong.
      BTW I should be getting full custody of my girls in 2 weeks and I still have a good relationship with 3 of the 4 step children, they will always be my boys!

  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.

      1. I’m 28 and i have been dating my bf for a year this coming sunday. He has a 5 year old son, who I think is great and enjoy spending time with. I usually don’t see my bf during the week because our work schedules can be crazy. When we first started dating he spent more one on one time with me through out the week. I spend my weekends at his house with his son. Sometimes on Fridays we get alone time, but usually it is all three of us. I feel bad even saying I want more alone time with him because I don’t want him to feel like he has to choose between me and his son. He is a loner so Before we started dating his son consumed his whole life and I feel like he doesn’t know how to balance a relationship and his son. I asked him what we were doing for our anniversary and he said he had his son this weekend, basically meaning we were doing nothing. I feel like he has gotten comfortable with the fact that me and his son have a great relationship and forgets I need adult time too. Am I being selfish?

    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

          2. And putting them before everything and everyone else is no way to maintain a healthy marriage. Treating children like children and not constantly kissing their asses would solve a lot of problems. Tell me, at what point does a person stop being precious. People have a tendency to say that children are precious but u never hear that of adults. Why is that? Maybe its because we perceive everything that they do, when they are rude, obnoxious little assholes even, as not their fault-even when they are capable of understanding their actions. When adults are assholes, they are just assholes, but when a kid is an asshole, they are going through something. If we held children accountable for their actions, there would probably be a lot fewer assholes in the world.

        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!!!

            1. I agree with you, DGGould…the selfishness is unbelievable. Maybe I’m a bit biased because I WAS the unwanted stepchild who was pushed aside by an abusive stepfather, who felt that HIS needs were more important.
              And my mother, bless her heart, allowed him to treat me badly and she put him first in every situation. It showed me that I didn’t matter.

              Emma does make a few valid points about making time for one’s partner. But what people need to understand is that ADULTS choose to be in relationships with people who have children. The kids usually don’t have much of a say about anything because hello! They’re still KIDS.

              If you (general “you”) don’t want to come second, maybe you should try dating somebody without kids? Just a thought. Because otherwise you will resent that child and they will KNOW it. They will know that you see them as a burden or a brat standing in the way of your happiness.
              With these selfish people, it’s all about them.

              They can’t see that the kid might be acting out due to sadness or fear or anxiety in a situation where they have no control.
              They can’t see that maybe the kid might actually NEED the parent to be focused on them…giving them love, attention, support, and anything a kid needs to grow into a healthy person.

              Men who are there for their children? That should be applauded, because it is rare. I’m not saying that anyone should be a “helicopter” parent smothering their kids.
              But to expect somebody to put YOU and YOUR needs above that of their child? Um, no. You either accept that they are trying to raise their kids to the best of their ability or you find somebody who is child-free.

            2. DGG, it’s about being ranked. I’m a single mother who was recently dating a single dad who was very keen to establish emotional intimacy very quickly, gave all signs of wanting something committed, and then backed out, saying a relationship is not a priority: kids, work and football come first. Having a child should not preclude a commitment to a partner. If it does, that’s your choice obviously, but then you shouldn’t be in a relationship with someone to the point where you are engaged. DebbieDD, spot on. I’m so sorry for your loss, and I think it’s absolutely immature of your ex to put it like that. There are situations where a child will come first, as will a partner. The love for each is different.

          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

          3. Man, you should really reread what you just wrote. So you just kick open the door and scream Debbie’s here, all others to the back of the line? Lol. You are disposable, his daughter isn’t. He made the right choice and saved himself a lifetime of drama with a jealous insecure woman.

        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.

        Cheers

      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.

        1. Agreed, Matt. I feel bad for the kids in most of these situations…they don’t ask to be in that position; the adults are the ones making all the decisions.
          The people who complain about their partners putting the kids (from previous relationships) first are showing their immaturity and selfishness. They CHOSE to be involved with a person who had children. What do they expect, that the kid should simply go away now that they are in the picture?

          Because that is honestly the vibe I’m getting. If they don’t want to come second to anyone, they would be better off finding somebody without children or responsibilities.

        2. Yes, when you had kids you decided to put yourself second. YOU did that, not the person that would be your next partner, you decided that for them.

          I 100% believe that if a single parent wants to date they should do it with another single parent or not at all. If a single childless person wants to date a parent I feel it’s the parenst responsibility to turn them down. If you don’t you create a responsibility to your new partner. That responsibility being that they should suffer as little as possible from tour previous life and they should get the life as they would have had with another childless person. Meaning it’s your obligation to your partner, that you chose to make sure your children stay out of their lives. Every penny and every second you spent on your children after you decide to partner up with a childless person is a betrayal to that relationship and hurts your partner. Don’t even think about saying that they knew what they were getting into because they don’t. You can only know what it’s like when you’ve lived it. You should be wiser than to selfishly drag another person into that world of neglect and pain.

          Parents should just choose which of the two they find more important. Taking care of their children or having a relationship. You can’t have it both ways. I hope with all my heart that people who choose to have children stick by those kids and take care of them but if they are desperate for a relationship they should at least have the decensy to not burden another with their mistakes.

          1. This stance is insanely narrow — there are plenty of success stories of childless people partnering with single parents. Life doesn’t have to be any more complicated than you make it.

            1. It’s not. I grew up with living with two psychologists. One specialized in family counseling directen towards stepfamilies and one specialized in children of divorce.

              Things get discussed around the dinner table. Not with actual names of course but facts and numers, absolutely. Over 60% of women who date men who have children fall into depression or get a burnout. More than 75% of women who date men who have children regret getting involved in it and I have seen dozens of suicides because of the exsistence of a partners children in what otherwise would have been very normal and good relationships. There was nothing wrong with the people who killed themselves except for the fact thet got involved with a parent.

              Divorce rates in second marriages are somewhere between 65-70%. Divorce rates in second marriages without children are only 15%, you do the math on how much chance a relationship with a parent is.

              People that created children should take their responsibilities and realize they’re horrible for dragging others down with them if those others don’t have children yet.

          2. “I 100% believe that if a single parent wants to date they should do it with another single parent or not at all.”

            “Every penny and every second you spent on your children after you decide to partner up with a childless person is a betrayal to that relationship and hurts your partner.”

            “Over 60% of women who date men who have children fall into depression or get a burnout. More than 75% of women who date men who have children regret getting involved in it.” And “Divorce rates in second marriages are somewhere between 65-70%. Divorce rates in second marriages without children are only 15%, you do the math on how much chance a relationship with a parent is.”

            I couldn’t agree more. My husband’s daughter is 20 years old. She’s earned up to 1k/week for the last 10 months or so and always complains about how broke she is. She would spend couple thousand dollars on her tattoos, couple thousand dollars on her cat’s face surgery plus multiple times of $100 to get her hair and nail done from the shop but nagging her dad for food money and a blown type! Of course all that ended up hurting our pocket because as my husband said his daughter needed help and how hurt she would feel if he turned his back on her!! But guess what, my husband always boasts about how independent she is!!!

            Whenever I make a comment about his daughter, he either ignores it or rushes into defend. My husband is an intelligent man but when it comes to parenting, very little of what he has done makes sense to me. My relationship with my husband is great… only when his daughter is not around. I swear to God that if I ever divorce, I will never get involved in a relationship with a single parent again! Not in a million years!!!

      7. I’m sorry to hear about this situation you placed yourself in and its terrible that you probably thought getting pregnant would EVEN the playing field for you. (selfish)SHAME on you for using a precious baby to do that. You should’ve MOVED on from this man as soon as you saw this type of behavior going on between him and his daughter. Its not your place to come into someone else’s life and change things. If they don’t want you there which ( obviously they don’t) you should’ve moved on to a MORE meaning, loving, fulfilling relationship with someone else. Now….You have to take off that selfish mask and be ALL you can be for that wonderful gift you’re about to receive which is your baby. Don’t let anyone make your kid feel like a second class citizen in your life now that you are a parent but not take it to the extreme like your husband and his daughter which is a bit OVERKILL. Best wishes!!!

      8. I fricken LOVE this post and it is SOOO SPOT ON! It IS all about ‘balance’. Just as EVERYTHING in life is……or is it not? I BELIEVE thats the problem and the reason WHY Ive known sooo many people to eventually DIVORCE omce their kids leave the home, to live their own lives and raise their own families.

        As if the ONLY fricken reason the even got married was to raise kids….its sad and I shake my head. Some people really just dont get what marriage is all about. They really dont.
        Your husband/wife is the person YOU chose to spend the rest of your life with AND to build a future with….NOT ur children. Your CHILDREN will most likely LEAVE and GO OFF to raise their OWN families…..and then YOUR stuck with someone you BARELY know all because you CHOSE to neglect your marriage, in the.process….and thats not fair to YOU, your children OR your mate. Its just not RIGHT.

        Again, I so appreciate this thoughtful post!

        1. Also….I hate to say it but I think a LOT of parents who are LONELY or lonely in their relationships and/ or have given up on love and finding a mate, tend to gravitate toward making their.children ‘everything’ in their lives. Just my opinion….but something to think.about.

      9. I deal with the same exact problem if only my boyfriend (because I refuse to marry him due to your same issues) could treat me like he does his daughters I’d be the happiest girl ever. I mean he treats me great but his grown daughters get treated and act like spoiled princesses and he hates when I even mention it, like it’s totally normal. And I myself am a daddy’s girl so I get it at least to a certain extent but sometimes it just obnoxious an drives me crazy I’m glad to know its not just me and I’m not crazy

      10. On Danielle that sounds awful, I can identify with a few of those things, maybe when your baby comes things will change, the daughter will definitely have to deal with not always coming first then x

    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.

        1. Once again, Matt, thank you for your words of wisdom.

          I think what certain people believe is that we’re saying that single parents should be sexless martyrs who only live for their children to an unhealthy degree.
          No one is saying that.

          The real issue, based on my own experiences as an unwanted stepchild and seeing the attitudes of these selfish people, is that the children SHOULD come first.
          They didn’t bring themselves into this world. They did not ask for their parents to be divorced or separated or whatever. So it is the job of the parent they live with to nurture them, take care of them, provide for them and love them. Period.

          These people knowingly get involved with a person who has children and then they complain about being second to the child’s needs? Really? They knew what they signed up for. They can leave if they don’t like it. There are plenty of single childless men and women out there who will devote ALL their time and attention.

    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.

      3. @ Shelia…I understand what you’re saying and you make a good point. However, people tend to take this whole “union” concept a bit too far (which is most likely tied to religion in some ways).

        We should definitely cherish our spouses and partners, there is no question about that. But when a person knowingly enters a relationship with somebody who has kids from a previous relationship, they should be aware of what it might entail.

        They should also understand that until the child is old enough to fend for themselves and be independent, the child needs the parent much more than they (the partner) does.

        The child needs their parent to be there, esp. in cases where the other biological parent is dead or absent for whatever reason.

        Children can suffer if their emotional needs are neglected in favor of Mom or Dad’s selfish partner.

    6. Then, why are you dating? If you can’t put the time/effort into a relationship why put that person in your life in the first place. We have feeling too. Yes your children should be first but don’t put another person through the tortue we have feeling too. Did you date your ex wife obviously not that’s why your divorced. You can have your kids every weekend (no saying its your situation), sports during the week and use the days your kids to bail on you to work on a new relationship. If you can’t put the effort then don’t bring someone into your life. Who is being selfish when you do? Together for 4 years I’m still not allowed to stay the night when his soon is there His son told his father. I don’t want you to have a gf. I’m your gf.

      1. @ chgo doll…well, you always have the option of ending the relationship if you’re unhappy. I see your point about the son’s behavior and you not being able to spend the night. I’m sorry about that.

        And I agree, some people shouldn’t date at all. But you’ve been putting up with this for 4 years. Maybe you should leave if you’re so unhappy with the situation.

        At this point, you can’t blame anyone but yourself because you are choosing to stay in this situation.

    7. I can see why you’re single. You sound like a very bitter angry little man. I’d say the idea that you’ll ever be in the position to get married and therefore get divorced or have kids is severe wishful thinking on your part.

    8. They will be alone . Remember it is not our fault they got divorced. It is their fault and their failure. So be alone in the nursing home..

  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.

      1. we ne ver spend much time together at all, the minute his daughter calls to demand things like i need you to go with me to the haul company to get a truck and measure it so i know what i’m getting, or when she got married he had to go and get the walls measured and than take all day to decorate the place with his ex-wife and some of her family members, and their mutual friends, but i was not invited to go help by him or her, the ex wife knows he is in a relationship with me, and she/he constantly put themselves in together to be side by side, we had a family table that we sat at and low and behold we had to sit right across from her and her friend where i had to listen to them talk about the pass people in their lives. now she text last night to say dad i need you to go with me to look at this footlocker she found on craigslist and it is 36 miles away, this is on a Sunday when we usually relax because we work all week long.we have not been intimate in months, we are in our mid 50’s and she does not live with us, but will be staying with us for a couple of weeks until she moves to California where her husband is stationed at, sad to say i really cannot wait till she moved. it is very hard for us to even get a relationship going because of her high demands to come between us all the time. when we dated i live 123 miles away from him, he invited me to move where he is because of his JOB, and i have 6 adult children and 14 grand children, but i go see them usually on Wednesday when my day off is, but i am always back and have dinner either ready for him after he has worked all day, or i purchase something out to eat, but any which way you look at it i have dinner on the table waiting for him when he gets right in the door, i treat him like a king and i am the last thing on his mind, or at lease that’s what it feels like he is always putting me on the back burner. that i am at wits ends, and am to the point that i really want to give up. any advise will be helpful, Thank You and God Bless

  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.

    2. Wise words, Angela! “Adult time” IS very important but should not come at the expense of the children.

      My mother always put her social/dating life above my needs and it sucked. It taught me that while she loved me in her own way, the men in her life would always be more important.

      We rarely had quality time together. As it is, my biological father was absent from my life, so you can imagine the sadness I felt at not having my mom around either.
      There was always somebody more important, more worthy of her time and attention.

      People need to understand the pain and hurt this causes a child. After all, the child came from the mother or the father.
      When a selfish partner expects somebody to cast aside their own flesh and blood, that is wrong. I never understood how my stepfather could say that he loved my mother, yet he hated me…aren’t I a part of her?

      I honestly believe that it is jealousy, insecurity, and a lack of maturity with these people who feel entitled to come before their partner’s kids.

  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.

        1. *slow clap* YES, Lola…amen!

          This is the choice that they make and then they complain about it. They resent the child, who in most cases, had no say in the matter because adults make all the decisions.

          Look at all the stories we see in the media where some innocent child has been hurt or killed by Mom or Dad’s new partner, all because of selfishness. They chose to date or marry a person with kids and then they get mad when they realize that the child isn’t going away.

          These people need a reality check…they need to grow up and accept the situation, make it work somehow, or move on.
          But no…they come into a package deal and they try to change the dynamics with their own selfish interests in mind. They automatically see the kids as annoying brats even if that isn’t true, and they resent their partner for (oh, the horror!) actually being PARENTS.

  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.

        1. @JNETT…oh, you pitiful troll. Children are NOT “worthless” although that seems to be the attitude of many people today.

          And it’s THEIR, honey, not “there”.

          1. Actually no, let me rephrase that to “THEY’RE”…as in, they are. I was so pissed off by your comment that I made an error myself.

    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.

        1. Well said!!!
          I did not date as my children grew. My youngest is now 26. Introduced him to some as a friend that was coming to help him with his car problems. He flipped out and was very rude to him. He still seems to think the mommy world revolves around him.

          1. @chgo doll…sorry to hear that. You were wise to not date while your children were growing up. Your son, at 26, is an adult so he should be more open to you having your own life now.

            However, maybe there is more to it. Is it possible that he is overly protective of you, as some kids are of their mothers?
            Or could it be that he sees something in this guy that you don’t? Sometimes other people pick up on bad vibes that we are “love-blind” to.

            There is no excuse for him to flip out and be rude to your boyfriend, but these are just some things to consider.
            I had a bad feeling about my mother’s husband way before they were ever married…a lot of red flags in his behavior. He was arrogant, selfish, rude, verbally abusive, not a nice person in general.

        2. Read the research on girls who had single mothers who dated at will, it has a far worse affect than you realize! Very little on about single dad’s dating and how it affects the child, I suppose that is to do with research not catching up to the times though. We should in my opinion keep it in our pants and/or keep the partner away from our children until we see that a long-term future is possible with that person! Let’s try to teach our children that we don’t need a bedmate to be happy and that sleeping around is not a good trait, be it male or female! Also it it perfectly fine for my children to think that daddy’s world revolves around them or that the sun rises and sets with them. It does seem as though you have some issues you need to work out, therapy may with your me issues! Better yet if the sex is what your after just plant your ass outside a male penitentiary and let each and every inmate getting relaesed have their way with you!

      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…

        1. Although I’m not as far in, I am starting to experience some of what you have just mentioned with my fiance when my son visits or I spend time with him. She feels excluded with her boy, even tho I only get to see my son 25 days a year but spend the rest with her (me ex ran off abroad with my son)

    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?

      1. @ Lola….thank you! A lot of step-parents miss the forest for the trees. Not all, of course, but many do.

        They don’t understand that respect goes both ways. You don’t treat your partner’s kids like crap, then turn around and whine about not being respected.
        You have to build a relationship with the child where you both trust and respect one another. Until then, no good can come of it.

        My stepfather was all about demanding respect from me, but he never treated me kindly or fairly. And as a result, there were SERIOUS problems for years.
        But to many of these people, they don’t look at their own attitudes and try to work on themselves. They focus only on the child’s behavior, not on their own behavior and how it influences a child to act.

        There is even a forum of step-parents calling their partner’s children vile names, saying they hate the kids, etc…I’m sure it shows in how they treat the kids as well.

        Now there are situations where some kids really are nightmares to deal with and the parent is overly indulgent, but this is usually not the case.

        My stepfather used to accuse my mom of “spoiling” me just because she hugged me in front of him. Or anytime she was nice to me, really.
        He wanted her to shut me out of her life completely so they could ride off into the sunset and do whatever the hell they wanted.

  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.
    Note:
    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.

    AND ONE LAST THING
    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.

      1. Pitiful. No character at all. Just a shallow, hopeless carcass. A shell of a woman.
        Your mother deserves more than you, as a bad mouth daughter.

  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.

    1. At age 26 why on earth would you think you should “move home”? Your parents raised you to be your own person and live your own life. Good for them.

  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…

  30. MY 45YR OLD DAUGHTER HAS BEEN SEEING HER SO CALLED BOYFRIEND FOR CLOSE TO 5 MONTHS. YOU SAY THE RELATIONSHIP COMES BEFORE THE LITTLE CHILDREN. WELL LET ME TELL YOU, YOUR WRONG. MY DAUGHTER IS WITH HER BOYFRIEND EVERY SECOND ON THE WEEKENDS. THAT MEANS, MY GRANDDAUGHTER GET NO TIME FROM MY DAUGHTER. WELL I WANT TO TELL YOU MY GRANDDAUGHTER IS ALMOST 7 YRS OLD, AND AND MY DAUGHTER WAS TOLD 2 YRS AGO THAT HER DAUGHTER NEEDED SPEECH THERAPHY, MY SON IN LAW AT THE TIME SAID SHE WOULD OUT GROW IT. WELL HERE WE ARE 2 YRS LATER, AND YOU CAN’T UNDERSTIAND HER 50 PERCENT OR MORE OF THE TIME WHEN SHE SPEAKS. NOW 2YRS LATER SHE TAKE SPEECH THERAPHY, AND SHE’S HAVING A HARD TIME AT IT. OF COURSE SINCE MY DAUGHTER IS WITH HER BOYFRIEND EVERY SECOND ON THE WEEKENDS, SHE HAS NO TIME TO HELP HER DAUGHTER SOUND OUT, AND READ WORDS AND READ BOOKS, AND PRACTICE,PRACTICE, PRACTICE EVERY DAY AND HOURS ON THE WEEKENDS. FOR -5 MONTHS NOW, MY GRANDDAUGHTER HAS HAD NO HELP FROM HER MOM, NOT EVEN 5 MIN. ON THE WEEKENDS, BECAUSE MY DAUGHTER IS WITH HER BOYFRIEND THE WHOLE WEEKEND. NOT ONLY IS MY DAUGHTER IS DOING WRONG, HER BOYFRIEND IS SELFISH AND SELF CENTERED, AND DISRESPECTFUL OF MY DAUGHTER, BUT YOU SAY HER BOYFRIEND COMES BEFORE HER DAUGHTER, AND MY GRANDDAUGHTER. YOU ARE WRONG.

      1. In the case of in tact families… Of course the marriage of the child(ren)s bio parents should come first… It is a totally different scenario than kids being forced to accept some new person & take a back seat to the person they would never know off their divorced parent wasn’t fucking them. That is unfair in my opinion. That doesn’t sound fair at all to make a child respect & welcome some new person simply because their parent is screwing them. Of the family is in tact & healthy… Parents would put their marriage first meaning they continue to date each other but also that they are a united tram as they are regularly everyday invested together in the raising & rearing of their children. Usually the new person is not nearly as invested in regularly raising someone else’s kids whole heartedly. This is an article to make dating single parents feel good about ignoring their kids & the new partner’s attempt to try & be number one in a person’s life when that person should be continuing to everyday be available to invest necessary time into their children. They would be that invested if they would have stated married & in a healthy balanced marriage to the kids other bio parent. That is what a family life would look like. This advice takes a parent away from the time they should be investing into the family they helped create. I stopped dating for that very reason. No my kids are not over privileged over entitled brats. I teach them. I guide them. I show them the world. Most important… I don’t have some new person’s contradictory values influencing my kid’s upbringing. I have a large social network. I am very active in my community. I am a performer & I get involved in projects my kids can be a part of, learn from, and develop their own skills in. This is all what I would do if I were still married to their dad. Having an active full life as a single or divorced parent doesn’t mean having sex. I have been celibate for almost a year & I have a secure for partnership but my devotion to what I do in my community, & what I can share with my kids when not working thru unnecessary relationship drama is much stronger for me these days. I am very attractive & I have more than my share of guys who would jump at the chance to date me… But I just don’t want it right now & my life is incredibly full. I wouldn’t trade the relationship I now have with my kids for any love affair ever. We are very close & I am so thankful I first invest in my family. This article & most of these posts sound so incredibly SELF ABSORBED. All you are doing is justifying a life that mainly served you first… Not the family you helped to create…divorce or not. Grow up & stop only thinking 28th you genitals.

  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.

  33. Some of you need to re-read, and read between the lines as the author mentioned. She is not saying to ignore or neglect your children. She is not advising you to pawn them off on anyone and everyone so you can go out and whoop it up. She is saying that if you want to do something for your children, for your family unit, put your marriage or relationship first. I get that. You have to invest your time and effort into your partner in order to build a secure relationship with that person. If you do that, your kids will be happy. Think about it. It makes sense. (However, I do get a kick out of the people who call the author stupid, yet can’t seem to put a coherent sentence together. So thanks for the comedy relief.)

    1. It’s a sign of very emotionally immature people who are only capable of the most basic black and white thinking. In their overly-simplistic minds, making your partner a priority means completely abandoning and neglecting your kids, as if it’s some dark Victorian melodrama. But I think their real problem is that these are people who feel entitled to all the conveniences and benefits of a relationship, without making any effort in return and they mistakenly believe their kids are the ultimate sacred trump card that entitles them to this. And it makes them boiling mad to see people call them out on their bullshit. Why they think they’re so special and wonderful that they deserve a relationship with someone they’re too lazy to make a priority is beyond me. I can see why so many of them are divorced.

  34. I need some advice and maybe I am wrong in this but my boyfriend doesnt want me to attend my sons concert or he will end it with me? I have explained that I dont go there to see my ex (who will definitly be there because its his child too) I go to see my child. Its moments like this that I dont want to miss in his life because they grow so quickly, my mom missed all of mine and I dont want to do that to my child. It feels like Ive been put in a situation where I am being asked to choose him or my child and I cant do that. Its not right. I have been given an ultimatum and have been told I can still change my mind and not go but if I go he will never forgive me.

    1. That’s precisely what he wants you to do (choose between him and your child). If you listened to the author of this article, you would choose the man. If you were a half-decent mother, you would choose your child. Make your choice.

      Btw, observe the named phenomenon of neanderthal step-father who can’t deal being around someone else’s kid: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinderella_effect

  35. “A strong relationship provides security for your children and demonstrates how a loving, respectful partnership should be. What could be more important?”

    Oh, I don’t know… Maybe not marrying a scumbag who overtly hates your child and abuses him at every turn? Maybe that might be more important than a “loving respectful partnership”? I am 34 years old and I am still fucked up because of the man my mother chose to be with and ultimately marry. I would have killed that bastard long ago if not for the fact that he and my mother had my half-brother who I love dearly (and who loves me).

  36. She’s 100% correct- I’m sick of men who say their kids are the center of their universe-tell that to the judge in their divorce hearing. That’s probably why this marriage failed in the first place. Our culture is too kid focused anyway-ladies, I say “next” if you run into the weekend super dad-he won’t make time for you, and you’ll be ex no.2/3/4-life’s too short!

    1. My current husband drives me insane with his obsession over his damned kids- he feels bad that he had a poor father so he over compensates now and he’s missing the boat on being a good husband/ men who say their kids are their world forget they r on a dating site! I got married to have the relationship be no.1 focus, not number 3 or 4-don’t think it will get better because I’m 5years into the relationship and it’s still all about his kids-pisses me off

    2. So agree with you. I have a happy son who is always courteous towards my boyfriend. It’s not that i put him after my SO but he knows I have my own life too and. If I am not happy then that affects my life around him too

  37. I couldn’t have said it any better , and it doesn’t mean we love our children less. we love them in a different way than loving a partner

  38. I understand a lot of the comments its not all about the kids I HAVE TWO and believe me they can be quite manipulative to parents when there are separated families but its a parents ADULTS responsibility to not let CHILDREN rule the roost (or ex wives/husbands) or u will end up with some pretty BRATTY ADULTS later on in life….so good luck with that.

    I was engaged and pregnant by a man who told me he was awaiting a divorce and had been separated from his wife for 5 years and she even had a boyfriend and he had a string of ex’s. He never had a good word to say about her I had to listen to how bad their marriage was all the time. When our baby was 4 months old wedding dress bought etc… I found out from ex wife approaching me and my son in the street (to ridicule me she ignored me and cooed over my son, as my fiancé stood by and watched) so I did some digging AND FOUND THE TRUTH.

    He was living with her and moved out 1 month before our engagement and she KNEW ALL about me. They were still sharing a bed and having sex right up until he moved out and with other people . A month after our engagement their divorce was final (I later found out but had previously told him no engagement till divorce final HE LIED ABOUT THAT TOO). She accepts all my expensive many gifts for her kids but has never even had the decency to say hi to me or thank me for all the gifts I bought her kids etc…I never had a problem with anyone …why would I? UNTILL I had my baby and the games started and later the truth came out, they always use their children as weapons to get at each other and even me and my son keep getting dragged in! I suffered severe post natal depression and mental health problems as a result of all they have put me through and my bond had been broken for a year and a half with my son. My ex fiancé lies through his teeth about everything and she won’t speak to me to resolve.

    I LOVE KIDS but I washed my hands of their kids and them because my son and I are last or not at all and them and their kids are the reason. I know its not the kids fault but I can’t take anymore and now I resent them I HAVE TRIED to understand but I can’t bond with them kids now ALL I see is him and his ex wife and all they have done to me and our son. I am heartbroken and he doesn’t care they have turned everyone against me. My family and friends are hurt and hate him its a mess. BUT GUESS who is the big bad wolf wicked step mum now who rejected their kids. When ex wife needs help he’s THERE anything she needs ‘for the kids’ even if she decides she needs to drop them off last minute for anything its ok which is usually to spoil our plans EVEN THOUGH HE HAS THEM EVERY WEEKEND (so he should) and the rest when she’s sick etc but she won’t do it for him and he won’t do it for me. And I have to shut up and deal with it because …’its for the kids’ and apparently I am jealousof 2 innocent children (the eldest stirs trouble not innocent). They easily forget how what they have done affects me and my son but I have to be sensitive to their co parenting relationship ‘choke’ and their daughters who manipulate this whole situation as much and I have been nothing but kind and patient as I can.

    I have had it I hate them all and OUR SON never gets considered or my feelings for all they have both put us through. As long as ‘the kids’ are ok meaning their 2 daughters then I can just like it or lump it. Every time I have tried to leave him he punishes me and our son by disappearing for weeks on end not calling etc and messing us around with payments, so i have to be extra nice to him to try get him to treat me and my son with the respect we deserve. EX WIFE gets every penny and all the help he does NOTHING for us but HE LOVES ME and doesn’t want her LOL but completely defends ALL her bad things she does. Yes they still live a five minute walk from each other while I am miles away living with our son (long distance relationship) I know nothing he calls them in secret tells me half truths. And he’s walked out on us yet again and I have no idea where he is maybe with her who knows?

    Fed up of them and their friends branding me the evil step mum and me and my son rejected.

  39. Some of the people commenting on this amaze me.. We are raising a generation for spoiled brats because they feel entitled to everything and that nothing else in the world could ever be as important. That is quite frankly BS! I was raised by my maternal grandparents, and guess what? We were well loved and taken care of, we wanted and needed for nothing, but their marriage was priority one!! I have never seen a love as strong as what they shared ..I wish I could find the same!!! Making your marriage or love life priority one doesnt mean youre neglecting your kids…some people have the entirely wrong idea here. You are showing them what is healthy for the future!! Kids are watching how you treat your significant other and they WILL likely do the same some day. Think about that…

  40. There are plenty of ways to put your relationship first WITHOUT making your child feel neglected. Why does it have to be all or nothing with most of you?? A childs NEEDS will ALWAYS come first..but a childs WANTS don’t always have to come first and they shouldn’t come before our needs either. The love we have for our kids in unconditional..they love we have for an inrimate parter is not..so if you’re not willing to put in some work, it likely wont last..and so many people cant understand why they cant keep someone around…

      1. I would like to agree with you Emma as someone who has dated and currently dating someone with a kid it is difficult and its even more difficult to explain your position of we are each others priority and the child is OUR priority especially when that person was in a bad relationship prior and feels the only person who will ever love them is their kid, so they are a push over as a parent and some how manage to insert their kid into every scenario, i came from a stable home and my parents spent time together alone not to the neglect of their kids, but for their happiness and in turn were able to spread that happiness to us

  41. Just to poke the bear: One thing that may have been overlooked when mentioning that single-dad’s could stand to loosten-up about their commitment to their kids – Is the additional effort single-dad’s need to make to be with their kids.

    We have traditionally had to jump through more hoops and go through more trouble to get our kids than the moms do; which could be why some of us are a little overzealous.

    Not saying we should be, just saying that: When you have to spend a year being a weekend dad and filing paperwork in order to see your kids… You might become a little too possessive of your little treasures, and a little more jaded.

  42. I feel so many essential elements of a balanced and healthy partnership are missing from relationships between a single person and a single parent particularly when the single parent is really bad at parenting, prioritising, and lacking of proper perspective. First, with most single parents always saying “My Kids Always Come First” even if they are already engaged or married to someone are basically saying: you are not my partner in life, your needs are not equal to mine or the rest of my family, you are an outsider in this family, and you have no say in day-to-day and big decisions that affect your life too.

    I think if you are, say, only 30% available and committed to someone for whatever reason (because 70% of your time, devotion, loyalty, resources are for kids, ex-wife, etc) then the same rule that applies to anyone applies to you. You are not in the position to start a relationship with anyone. Uh, OK you are super dad and you think I should understand that I come in 2nd, 3rd, or 4th (after my kids, ex-wife, job) but what’s in it for me? You have to be some kinda superwonderful god for me to to want to be with you after that declaration. We have nothing against you having kids and being divorced, for sure kids should be loved and cared for and sure divorcee deserves a second chance in life, but it doesn’t mean they are a free pass for you to be a sloppy at being soulmate/lover/human being. You are “divorced dad/mom”, NOT Special.

    What about love, you say? What if you love me very much? See love is what you do, not what you say.

    I agree with one poster in another site about it being a “divorce thing”. There are parents that do not have this prioritisation problem and their kids do not have drama over them being devoted spouses and not being there 24/7. I did notice that those who put the kids as center of their universe appear to have shitty relationship with their spouse or are just not in love with their spouse.

    1. Rita, I wish I could ‘like’ this post. Every single point you made is valid and accurate. I read it twice. Thanks for the insight and wisdom.

  43. People are always quick to be negative and defensive. Of course having kids makes them come first in so many ways but…..Kids also very much need to see Mom have her own life. They do need to see that not everything revolves around them. That does not mean Mom is not there through thick and thin and no matter what. It means Mom has value too. It teaches them to know that Mom is indeed a person with needs as well and they can learn empathy and understanding. Moms, even single Moms able to have their own lives separate from the kids is healthy. The shaming of this idea is awful. This Mom is not selfish but being normal and healthy, acknowledging her own needs and in the end, Mom will be a better one.
    I have been on dating sites where men say the kids comes first. I love that the man is valuing his children and a great parent..That’s hot. But it sometimes leaves me feeling that I would never hold importance in his life. I am in any relationship for life but dating and marriage have turned into temporary things in today’s world. To me, marriage is family and secure and I would do everything and anything for my partner.

  44. Rita and Jen,

    I totally agree with what you both say who wants to waste a life on a MAN/WOMAN who treats their children and ex wife like a spouse or a spoiled brat while we ‘outsiders’ look on and rarely matter. 4 years I wasted on my ex fiancé for this. I have a 16 year old daughter from a previous relationship and a 19 month old son with ex fiancé.

    I am a good mother my children are my priority they are happy and loved but they are children and they are not entitled to run my private life. I would not encourage it either. They are not a priority over my spouse unless its for a GOOD reason, something that for example if my relationship may threaten their well-being….which is doubtful I would remove us from that situation as a result my eldest is very secure and confident and knows her boundaries. She certainly would not say I was a bad mother and I have had a couple of crappy relationships. She doesn’t even remember them so that goes to show how much she was affected. I was careful how I managed situations and she always knew she was the child and sometimes adults have to do other stuff without children. Shame my ex could not figure this one out.

    My ex claims he divorced his ex wife for her spoiled brat attitude it destroyed their marriage (she is a spoiled brat) so why would he divorce her for those reasons but allow his children to act like it. His daughters have been very condescending to me on many occasions and if I dare say I was upset about anything that his kids and ex did (which they crossed many boundaries where I kept quiet) if I dare say anything he would deny, sugar coat it or say I had something against his kids!! Even though I treated them like my own. Until I got absoloutely fed up of them constantly in our faces they see him more than my son and I. Then the constant plan changes at the drop of a hat because he couldn’t say NO, because he didn’t want the stress from the ex wife or upset his daughters. Maybe he thought potentially they may have an assumption he is a bad father (he isn’t TO THEM but he is to OUR SON because he’s too busy trying to be super dad to his precious girls and manipulative ex wife to care about his new relationship and son. WE ARE NOW NOT GETTING MARRIED NOR TOGETHER and he doesn’t care. I have hundreds of pounds worth of wedding items locked in a cupboard and on anti-depressants raising 2 kids alone with NO WEEKEND DADDY.

    so where did that leave my kids then WHILE HIS WERE CENTRE OF HIS UNIVERSE only his daughters HE HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH OUR SON…..

    1. NIC I’ve been there!!! You say it best, BOUNDARIES are IMPORTANT!!

      I know it’s not much consolation, but consider yourself lucky. My ex brings nothing but drama and misery into our lives under the guise of spending time with our daughter when he is only using her to try to provoke me into getting angry. I’m not going to stop him from seeing her but trust me when he sees her, he spends most of the time trying to anger me with comments and not trying to spend real time with his child. There are days that I wish my ex would just disappear. My hubby is a MUCH better, attentive father than he ever was. But I know I can’t deny the time he does spend with her. I hope things get better for you.

  45. I’m dating a guy with a great kid. He asked me to move in. His one daughter lives with her mom and has a great life there with parents that are well off because mom dumped my boyfriend as soon as she started making money, even though he supported her through her college and being out of work, etc. So with my boyfriend’s job, he doesn’t get to see his daughter a lot, and I help out with logistics of driving her back home as needed, or picking her up. This child has grandparents, aunts and uncles. She is loved and adored by all, and they all flock to all of her events. I work and have a long commute and have just a few obligations and interests of my own, and I don’t always go to ever event or parade she’s in. She tells her dad this is hurtful and then I get a lecture from him. Now dad and daughter do things together without me – sometimes there just isn’t money for 3 to go, and all of the expensive things are the two of them. When we go out for dinner, who pays 80% of the time? Me. So I feel like I’m doing my part and helping the whole system work. But if we go to a movie, the daughter tries to dictate that she sits between my boyfriend and me instead of him sitting in the middle. When I was a child, I had no say in anything – I was one of 4 and I did not have an opinion anybody wanted to hear. If we were going someplace, I just had to shut up and go. I certainly didn’t have the gall to tell people who could sit next to whom. It is logical to me that in a theater, he sits in the middle so we can both talk to him. He is the reason his daughter and I even know each other, and while I give her all the time with her dad she wants, I don’t think it’s right to physically be in between us. Also, if her dad is watching TV on his bed, she hops onto my side of the bed without asking, making me feel she is not respecting my space and is pushing me out. I think she should ask her dad to make room and he should slide over and make room for her instead of taking over my side of the bed. Boyfriend thinks that’s being ridiculous. I think his daughter is great, but I think everybody feels sorry for her because her parents divorced, and they give her her way constantly, and then expect me to do the same. I don’t insert myself between her and her dad, so I don’t see why she should do it to me. If she wants her dad to herself, then I don’t see why I should go with them anywhere when she comes over. My boyfriend wants me there – well of course he does – I help pay for things! So why am I treated like the stepchild while his child is treated like royalty? I am at least an equal, and now that I’m adult, why is the child running things? I wish every child was #1 in their parent’s or at least SOMEBODY’s life. But since when in life does somebody have to be #1 in every person’s life? That’s not balanced or normal. If she didn’t have a mother, it would be a completely different situation, but she has an A+ mother. Anybody would wish to have such a mother.

    1. Cary, I’m glad your recognize that his ex is an A+ mother but first please consider this. You say your bf’s ex left as soon as she started making money. I have learned that people only tell half of the truth when they’re talking about their exs. When they’re complaining about their ex, you have to listen hard to hear their role in it. I did the exact same thing, I left my ex when I started making real money. Not because I was devil spawn, but because he was abusing me emotionally, psychologically and financially. I was giving him my unemployment check to help with bills and then giving him my whole check when I got part time work and he would have hundreds of dollars in his pocket and would not give me anything. He would make me pay ALL of my income to help with bills but would not share anything with me to take care of myself. So I just wanted to put that out there first that just because she moved on after she got a job doesn’t mean that she was the bad guy.

      But I really posted this to say. RUN. I empathize with you. That is how 5 year nightmare started. Everything revolved around his son and he would sleep with his dad up until we broke up (he was 15 years old!! And he slept on my side of the bed when I was working). I thought it was strange that a 15 year old boy would still sleep in bed with his dad but it was a competition to him.

      When I was pregnant, his son would compete with our daughter and he would always win. He would force our daughter away and sit on his dads lap, so that he could have all of daddys attention and daddy never corrected him.

      On top of that, the two of them abused me for 5 years. I would do nice things for them and they would scoff and treat me like the child. I would do things in sons best interest and get eye rolls and ugliness from the both of them. I suspect that daddy wanted to be the only one that his son liked and son wanted the same.

      I never got between them but his son was always royalty, even when we had a daughter (who should’ve been daddy’s princess), he treated his son like a princess instead.

      Let me tell you that it does NOT get better. If you value your sanity, your self-worth, self-esteem, or your dignity, get away as fast as you can. I have moved on and found that these cases are extreme but most men actually WANT a lasting union with their partners. My hubby has kids that we absolutely get along with and we merge as a family because we both respect each other and our kids know we are a team.

  46. William
    I seriously FEEL for you. I am a single mom of three and it gets Very hard. I was with my son’s father for almost a decade and he had some serious issues I made the decision to leave. Then I was with my daughters father for almost three years; knew of him in high school and I had to make a decision to leave because he chose to Always put his childhood family specifically his mother Before me. She would call and text him 24/7 and I learned about mother-son Enmeshment and that is WHY i chose to leave. Now, I run my own two businesses online but it gets so lonely as my children are very small (ages 1, 2 & 6). But I choose to put them first because of how I was the Least favored child out of three and my emotional needs were pushed aside and my Narcissistic mother chose to put my stepdad First even when he attempted to sexually molest me. So now I have trust issues and I have seen therapists and just feel so Alone. Sometimes life Sucks and nobody close to me understands. But I just deal with it because I’ve made my bed and now I’m laying in it, taking responsibility for my children when their fathers are only wanting to be involved to their convenience. I Wish I had a Better upbringing and much Better role models. I would have certainly picked better men for the fathers. I am not blaming anyone but recently I have come to realize what is acceptable and unacceptable treatment from our mates. However I plan to be single until I’m 40 because I know what it is like to be the little child put on the backburner and neglected and abused and I Don’t want my kids to feel that it is the Most horrible feeling when your mother doesn’t have time for you and she leaves you home to get abused by her husband

  47. My kids will always comes before any man…They come before me as well…My kids will grow up with all the love I have to give to them so they can pass that love right back at someone and know how it feels to love someone the right way….My kids come first…my oldest is 10 and she is so grateful for me she said I deserve to be put first but I tell her that, as long as I’m living on this earth her and her 3 sisters will always come before me and anyone else who decides to enter the home…and if a man cannot accept that then he can see himself out the door with all his things…my kids are the ones who is gonna be the one to take care of me when I’m older so I’m making sure I’m doing my best that way they don’t send me to a nursing home…I am a divorce mother I have 3 girls by my ex husband and one girl on the way by my boyfriend.. I am 28 years old and very independent… I guess my boyfriend don’t like that to much either…just like he don’t like my youngest sleeping in the bed with me…idc…if she wants to sleep with her mama she is gonna sleep with her mama…I’m not making my 4 year old daughter sleep in a big ass room by herself in a new house…she will do just fine sleeping with me till she is ready to move to her own room in a couple months…my kids are everything to me…a relationship really isn’t…I’m better off doing shit by myself anyways…I’m blessed

  48. I have to disagree. If your partner is the parent of your child, then yes, your spouse comes first. But to say that a new mate trumps your child? Absolutely not. Your child should not play second fiddle to your new love interest. They were there first, they are your flesh and blood. They should not be sacrificed for someone who may or may not be permanent, this is highly damaging and destructive to the child as well as the parent child relationship. I have lived long enough to see this fallacy play out in several families, kids suffer and carry this type of discard into adulthood.

  49. I agree with this article. I think when dating exclusively… (in a relationship, not just random dates,) people should put their kids second.

    People get offended because they automatically assume you’re going to take on the role of the aging, desperate clinger who’s going to let her boyfriend abuse her kids for the sake of having a guy around, or the tool whose going to stop contacting his kids because his new girlfriend said so.

    There’s actually a happy balance.

    You can stand up for your kids rights and make sure that your new partner is not abusing them or taking advantage of your ‘partner first’ policy, while allowing your partner to feel valued and important.

    I think the people who are so afraid of the aforementioned issues are the ones who take it to that ‘are you SERIOUS?!’ level.

    My ex had it really bad. He would not only put his son first in EVERYTHING but he would also ‘punish’ me if his son put on a tear show. I had to walk on eggshells everyday of our 5 year relationship. He was super sensitive about his son, so if I made a suggestion and his son made one afterwards he would dismiss mine as invalid or silly. His son was constantly competing with me though I was very welcoming and warm to him. But my ex took advantage of that and would try to discredit me for his sons sake. This was an extreme situation.

    I think putting your kids second mean making adult decisions together and enforcing them as a team without allowing your kids to pit you two against each other. Kids can sense a weak union and if they know they have their mom/dad eating out of their hands, they will abuse that, which causes many failed relationships.

    For those who think their kids can do no wrong. I’ve found that alot of this has to do with kids being insulting to their parents partner and their parent not standing up for their partner because ‘my kids come first’. There is no reason on earth that a person should allow their kids to dishonor their partner. NONE.

    A child cannot (and should not) fulfill the role of a partner. Your kids will grow up and fall in love, make families and move on (as they should). You will be the lone, miserable person who refused to solidify a healthy relationship when you had the chance.

    I also don’t believe it’s the time aspect of it (putting the kids first in time), I believe it’s the aspect of not respecting your quality time with your partner (if you made a dinner date then stick with it; your child should be raised to understand that your time is important as well and that you can manage your time without being irresponsible.. unless it’s an emergency).

    Also other aspects such as automatically siding with your child before getting the facts in a situation. There are moms and dads out there who just hit the roof when their kid ‘tattles’ on their partners and then when they get to the bottom of it, there was a misunderstanding or the kid exaggerated the bulk of it. These are things that are inexcusable, and this is what I think of when I hear of people who boast that their kids come first.

  50. I agree with this article, and find some of these comments to be quite unrealistic. When you seriously are in it for the long haul and want a lifelong partner, you should make that person a priority. Your children will grow up eventually and form partnerships and start families of their own, and where will you be? Alone, because you chose to put you children above a potential loving relationship. Unless your intention is to grow old with your child.. In that case, you better make a great mother/father in law… Good luck with that 🙂

  51. I’m 17 years old and my parents have been divorced since I was 2. I live with my mom and get to see my dad every summer and ever other winter break. He remarried when I was 7 I believe and they just recently got divorced this past August. Within the first few weeks of his divorce he went on a date with a woman. He told me he went on one about a few days later when we talked. We usually talk atleast once a week. sometimes we don’t talk for a week or two but we don’t go that long without talking- that is until this year. Like I said he went on the date and told me but didn’t say much. Soon after he stopped calling me altogether. He wouldn’t talk to me unless I started the conversation. Now as a 17 year old girl with her father in a completely different state over a thousand miles away it sucked that he didn’t want to talk to me. Months later I found out he had a girlfriend. I was on Facebook which im never on but my notifications started pilling up so I decided to check them and that’s where I noticed that there was a girl kissing him on his profile picture so I decided to check it out and when I did I found out he was infact dating this woman. So that night I texted him and asked if he had a girlfriend. His response? “UMM yeah?” I tried to ask questions but he just shot me down and said he was at dinner with her and my little brother and sister. He finally called me, not on the day he said he would but still, and he started laughing when I brought it up he kept saying it was no big deal. She is 26 years old. 9 YEARS OLDER THAN ME!!! 9 FUCKING YEARS!!! He doesn’t seem to think that a 17 year age gap is a big deal when he has a daughter who is so close to that age. I kept asking him why he wouldn’t tell me of all people he was seeing someone. He never answered just kept changing the subject. He introduced her to my 7 year old sister and 3 year old brother early in the relationship but insisted that it wasn’t serious. I found this out last month. I”m here at his house for winter break for two weeks. I leave on Saturday. How many days he’s spent here spending time with me or his other kids may you ask? Not even a full day. The Saturday I arrived she was there along with his friends. That Sunday he spent the day with her. That Monday I had to watch my sister and brother while he and their mom were at work that night he didn’t come home till late. Same thing on Tuesday. On Wednesday he wasn’t at home at all he went to work and then spent the night at her house. Christmas Eve I had to babysit my siblings again and then we had to go to her family’s house for Christmas eve. Because on one of the days to spend time with your family my dad doesn’t think that spending time with her family is bad, I just met the damn woman I didn’t want to already meet her family and she also spent the night at our house. On Christmas Day he made us breakfast and then they left. I was told they were going to a dinner party at five and then he’d be back. HE NEVER CAME HOME NEVER TOLD ME JUST LEFT ME SITTING THERE ON CHRISTMAS DAY BY MYSELF BECUASE HE WAS WITH HIS FUCKING GIRLFRIEND!!! it wasn’t until that Saturday that he actually stayed at home we even went out to dinner but naturally she calls him and he leaves me all alone once again for over thirty minutes cause he couldn’t be bothered to say he’d call her back or that he was actually spending time with me. Then on Sunday he got the kids again so I was back to babysitting. So Monday I was babysitting but atleast he came home that night but Tuesday night he didn’t and he didn’t on Wednesday either. So right now im stuck babysitting for a week straight not only with my brother and sister but also with her child because me father seems to think that I have no problem fucking babysitting whoever. New Years Eve and im stuck doing nothing because he once again isn’t here. So tell me this you think a man should put a woman over his children because you believe you should be first? That is a load of bullshit I have never felt worse than I have these two weeks. Children should always be put first especially in the case of a girlfriend. Because you know what? He will always be my dad just like I will always be his daughter you can come and go but im here to stay so if you think you should be more important than a man or woman’s child then you have some major problems. If you don’t like it I frankly don’t give a flying fuck. Grow the fuck up you are not the most important thing in a man’s life!

    1. I am so sorry that happened to you. What you dad did to you is plain crappy and there is no excuse for it. Putting a spouse (not girlfriend) first does not mean that you ignore your children. You should be a big part of his life and feel the love and stability of a father. I believe that when a spouse emotional needs is put before a child, it should be to build a strong family unit for the child. I’m sure that you can testify to the fact that when a marriage fails that the children suffer. With divorce, it gets trickier. I don’t know your faith and I will no way judge you, but I am a Christian and I believe that is the reason that God hates divorce. It breaks the strong family unit up and makes it harder on the children especially dealing with step parents. Any girlfriend or spouse that would allow a man to do his child like he did you is very selfish and self centered and is in no way mature enough to date or marry a man with children.

    2. Grow up. Your dad seems extreme. He should not be breaking his promises to you. He should be more considerate of your time and feelings and he definitely needs to keep his relationship with you healthy, however…you sound jealous.

      He can be with his ‘EFFIN girlfriend’ because he is trying to move on… as adults do. One day when you have a mature, responsible relationship you will learn that to make it work, you have to consider your partner and they come first sometimes.

      Your dad should not be taking it to the extreme, but I have a funny feeling why he’s doing it. You seem very demanding of his time and presence. I can tell that I’m on the right page because that’s why he was laughing because he’s wondering how he got this far letting this little girl play 20 questions like she rules him.

      NEWSFLASH! Your dad DOES NOT have to report to you about who he dates. He DOES NOT have to stop dating someone because YOU don’t agree with the age gap. He certainly DOES NOT have to explain to you why he decided to keep his relationship secret from you! He has a life of his own and he is allowed to live it… without your permission.

      Because your dad was so extreme, I can imagine you feel used and discarded but it sounds like you were offended by his relationship before you even got there. It’s obvious in the tone of your comment that you are hurting, but reading between the lines, I can tell that you know that you hold some kind of ‘power’ over him. It’s like you felt entitled to knowing all of your fathers personal details and are livid because he won’t share them.

      It sucks that he ruined your 2 weeks but I can tell that you’ve probably ruined tons of relationships for him. Because you sound like the feisty, ‘mini-wife’ that so many girlfriends & new wives get pushed to bottom for.

      The good news is that if his new girlfriend is so selfish to take all of his time from you, they probably won’t last very long… so you’ll have what you want…daddy wrapped around your finger. But you need to work on respecting your father, his wishes, and his lifestyle. You are the child, not the mother or wife. He does not answer to you.

    3. Sydney, I’m so sorry that you went through that. I understand where you are coming from; somehow coming by this post and quickly relating it to your current experience and how it made you feel to read this. But in time you will realize that Emma’s post is not a product of your experience. It is a product of hers. Your anger and resentment are with your dad, I believe, right? Just because Emma, (a stanger to you, correct?), wrote a blog that struck a nerve with you doesn’t really condone your obscenities and animosity. It would be much more productive to discuss your feelings with your father. Communication is EVERYTHING. If people cannot communicate, rather communicate effectively, there is not much hope for healing your wounds and fixing your problems so they do not continue to occur. Maybe the anger you feel is stemming from more ill feelings between your relationship and past with your father. I’m sure you are going to read this and prepare to fly off with more swearing and backlash but in all fairness you opened the door to every posters opinion with your tirade.

  52. Emma, thanks for giving me hope. My husband just told me his kids are more important than I. My heart is broken. I love him. I don’t know what to do. Please, helm me.

    1. Sounds like you have to decide if this is a) something you want, b) something you think is healthy for anyone involved– including the kids. You have some tough choices to make. You will make the right ones.

      1. Thanks Emma,
        We don’t live with his kids and for the second time he kindly said I am second. He said in tears I deserve someone who can make me his number one. He said he was not ready to leave me and neither do I. I do not think he can love me any stronger. I feel I cannot leave him…

  53. I disagree. A partner can look after themselves but a child can’t. When you’re young, you need somebody to put you first. Prioritising your partner over your child is selfish and will probably lead to mental health problems later on. While it’s true that you can’t give your child all the time in the world, you need to draw the line when you’re sacrificing their wellbeing to make your relationship work.

  54. Reading this article reminds me of reading the Bible passage about marriage. The Bible says the husband and wife should put each other only second to God. The spouse comes before children so they can make a good foundation for the children. That does not mean that you do not love your children dearly. If the husband and wife’s needs are not being met, how can they together meet the needs of the children? If their relationship falls apart, it is going to have a negative effect on the children. I guess that is why the Bible says that God hates divorce because it’s harder for a divorce parent to put another spouse before his or her children and build a strong family unit. I am in no way putting people down who are divorced. I know it things happen some times and divorce can not be avoided for the sanity of the people involved. My own brother is divorced and I still talk to his ex the few times I run into her and I love his new wife like a sister. His ex has moved on (they had no children) and his new wife one of the best things that ever happened to him.

  55. My father was– as you put in a previous post– a “married single dad”. He became a single dad for real when I was 15 and my mother died. So while I was just a couple years away from living on my own (it was the early 2000s and it was still possible!) it honestly took him a few years before he was ready to start dating again. While I wouldn’t say that he made me his whole world as a result of single parenthood, he really wanted to wait until I moved out and started having my own life before he could focus on finding a partner again. I found that he did spend more time with me after her death though. Whether it was out of frailty of human life or the whole living for your kids thing, I don’t know. As of this fall, he’ll have been with my amazing stepmom for 10 years. I’ll be frank: they both had major shitheads for first spouses and became widowed around the same age bracket, and deserve all the happiness they have. My dad didn’t find real true happiness with a partner til 56. So, any older readers…don’t give up hope!

    Granted, what I had wasn’t a 1:1 comparison to what I skimmed through here since my parents weren’t divorced and I was not super young. But I think there just needs to be a healthy balance. Just because you’re prioritizing your relationship doesn’t mean you’re abandoning your kids or refusing to go to EVERY hockey game or whatever. My dad did stuff with me and my sister but he also had friends he went fishing with, work friends he hung out with and civics stuff he did; all of which I found boring. He was totally fine with me having my own friends and hobbies. It still didn’t stop us from taking road trips together or showing me all the places he used to play at in the Village.

    A common point I saw come up here and there in this thread was “your child is forever, your partner may not be”. Well…I don’t know about that. Because honestly, if my abusive mother was still alive I would’ve cut her out of my life. When I was having my photo session for my site done, I had a nice chat with the photographer when we were going through the prints. It was an enlightening but sad conversation about how despite giving her a nice upbringing, she’d become a drug addict who fell in with a bad crowd and hadn’t spoken to him in over a decade. The last time she did, it was because she wanted money. His son did alright for himself but for some reason just wanted nothing to do with him, lives on the other side of the world with his wife who he never met.

    Life’s a crapshoot. A partner may not be permanent, but a parent-child relationship might not better. All you can do is not smother either person, ignore the haters, and just give it your best shot.

  56. I am torn. While I am nowhere near ready for a new relationship, I fear that I will NEVER find a partner who will love my child as much as I know she deserves or as much as me or her father…
    Growing up, I lived with my father, my stepmother, and their TRIPLET babies. Talk about being at the bottom of the priority list. These two beings have shown me the true meaning of selfishness and were never nice or subtle about letting me know how much of a burden I was to their lives. But, apparently the only sense they could make of my hurt feelings and their daily frustrations was that I was “just jealous”…really?
    SO, my experience of having a stepmother AND a father who didn’t accept me as part of their family makes me extra fearful for my daughter and who I choose to enter our lives. the thought of watching her grow up while my being alone is becoming more and more acceptable over falling in love with someone who will only “love” her out of obligation for me. Not worth it.
    Like here’s my thing-I expect a man to participate in my daughter’s life and value her as she was his own. I want her and I to have the same amount of love in our lives and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Hate to be pessimistic, but I just don’t think he exists. It’ll take a heart of gold to convince me otherwise.

    1. It sounds like you need to get (or return to) therapy to take care of the childhood issue that causes your fears. Getting to the root can help you find some balance. You need to make sure you’re not being overly sensitive to normal events since you’ve lived through abuse/neglect and want to be certain your child doesn’t go through with it.

      The things you expect that you mention here are normal (him participating and valuing your daughter like she’s his). Both you and your daughter deserve that.

      But men (and women) must actually get to this point. They don’t just meet your child and fall in love… and sometimes if they do, they might fall out of love when everyone’s real personalities emerge. They have to work toward this.

      In order for you to get to that point you have to show this person that they matter in your life. This is where this article comes in… value your partner. If you go into it looking for a father for your child and seeing everything as a threat to her, then he will feel this resistance and you will not get what you are looking for.

      Does this mean you have to cancel mommy/daughter dates, break promises, or tolerate abuse toward your daughter? ABSOLUTELY NOT. But it does mean that you have to treat him like you value and respect him and he matters to you. You have to set boundaries for both him and her and make sure that you don’t break your promises to either unless it’s an emergency. And you must practice fairness with them BOTH. If your partner is the right one and he feels genuine love from you (and you make an effort to be sure she is showing him and your union respect), then the love for her will come naturally.

      He won’t love her out of obligation, he’ll love her because there’s a real bond and a relationship that stood a chance because it was built with a strong foundation. He’ll love her like she is his because she IS his. It’s not forced and it’s not a chore, it’s the same as the friendships we build. There will be love there.

      Don’t expect it to be there from the start… because if it is then you should probably be questioning… WHY???

  57. I also find it interesting that the author only comments to people who agree with her, however dead silent to those who with personal stories of proof that putting your partner first isn’t always best. What is your response to those who have been physically and emotionally abused because two people chose to put their toxic relationship before the children who clearly needed speech therapy, or counseling, or be shown just the slightest bit of love? It’s not the article that I find offensive, but I think I find the author to be, for writing something so insensitive and thoughtless. So, you took a biblical concept and called it your own?

    1. If the adults in a relationship can’t stand as one undivided front.. Then the children will run or ruin the relationship.. Your mate is the one to help make the home a happy place firm your family, how happy is it off they feel your loneliness? They see and hear everything! Making a place in your life for another adult.. That shouldn’t be a concern of the child and it shouldn’t be a problem.. That’s why children don’t make the decisions.. The adults do.. And they aren’t always the right ones.. Some parents aren’t grown up enough to know that a child if just a child.. Not the judge and jury of a relationship..! A child needs guidance and structure.. Not a parent who can’t make a choice about dating one person

    2. your implying that the author is suggesting you ignore the child’s needs, i think the message is that your children will grow up and have their own lives therefore you cant put what would at that that later time be your main relationship, of course it is a priority to make sure your children are happy, healthy and safe, but that shouldn’t mean that your partner just gets forgotten about and taken advantage of in the process, most stepparents are willing to make sacrifices and take on joint responsibility for a child who isn’t their blood, we’re expected to provide, feed, clothe, take care of, love as if they’re our own yet the minute we say something negative like “I’m not happy that you let her stay up til 9” we get the “shes my daughter and I know whats best” line

    3. I just don’t understand why you are angry that you didn’t get a comment from the author? This isn’t a counseling/therapy site, it is simply an article she wrote. If you are looking for sometime to argue with because they didn’t contact YOU and ask you if this article would be fair to YOU and YOUR life experiences, your clearly at the wrong place.

      Sorry to seem so rude but my goodness, some people just expect something for nothing. She doesn’t owe you anything, your father and stepmother do. If you have tried working out these issues with them, great, and I’m sorry that it clearly didn’t work. Many people have had terrible life experiences and obviously will deal with them in whatever manner they choose. Some people just need to learn how to cope and work on their problems in appropriate manners, rather than being miserable and shitty towards innocent bystanders.

    4. UGH!!!! Because you are missing the point, that’s why the authors not responding to you people! It’s a waste of her time and the rest of us that Truly gets it.

  58. I’m not a single mom anymore but I totally agree with you on this! When I was single I lived by this because I wanted to get married so badly. I knew things would get better after I was married and 4 years later they did!

  59. I need some immediate advice. I adore the man I’m with and he loves me so very much. He is a single dad and has total custody of his two children with whom I adore. However, his daughter is focus and he does not discipline her and gives in to her on everything. She is so sweet but there are times I say something to him and he acts like I don’t like her. I love her and that’s why I try to make him stand his ground. I’m scared if one day she decides she doesn’t like me, I’ll be sent to the curb. He feels guilt with her mom abandoning the kids so I understand. But kids need boundaries and I don’t know how to approach this or leave. My kids are disciplined and I don’t want them thinking they can get away with things as well. Help. I don’t want this to ruin our relationship. He is so good to me and we have a wonderful relationship but I don’t know if I can deal with an unruly child that has no boundaries.

    1. I had the same issue in the beginning, bedtime was when she wanted and where she wanted, please and thank you was never enforced, “I want” was ok, interrupting when adults were talking and constantly protesting things she was asked to do, fortunately, through a lot of patience on my part this has improved a lot and she is now a relatively well behaved polite little girl , but now other stuff has started to pop up, we’ve talked about living together and even though he drives he doesn’t want to be more than half an hours drive from her even though this will mean me spending an hour traveling to work every day and its been made clear that even when shes a teenager every decision we make she will still be the main reason for doing or not doing certain things, I imagine even when shes at uni or getting married hed happily put us into debt for her!

  60. I’m dating a single father. We live together and his kids stay with us every other wknd. When we first got together I flat out refused to meet his kids (both under 10 yrs old) until I knew we were serious. He wanted me to meet them right away but I didn’t think they needed to meet me immediately in the event that we did not work out, so they wouldn’t see fleeting relationships with women in his life. When we were finally introduced I insisted we take it slow, he doesn’t get a ton of time w/them and I didn’t want to detract from it as he was spending all the rest of his time w/me anyhow. When eventually we moved in together, I’d make myself scarce on his weekends to ensure they got alone time with him. Eventually, they began asking me to stay around, asking me to go with them on all of their outings and including me in everything. We all get along and have fun together. I made a strong effort to show that there was no competition for their father’s attention and it resulted in a very happy environment. In fact, I researched quite a bit about step parenting prior to our decision to cohabitate and everything I read said: you need to accept that you can’t rush a bond between yourself and your step children, it will take a lot of time and probably akward, uncomfortable situations… Fortunately for me, that was not at all the case. His kids accepted me, and I accepted them and we became close in a relatively short time.
    He’s not one of those: “my kids come above all else” types of men, and our loving relationship toward each other makes us happier people and therefore better more effective co-parents. I support and agree with Emma and commend her honesty and bravery to assert her point of view despite it going against what has been societally accepted and expected for so long. Parents are people, the ones with lives and interests other than their kids are happier, better, more satisfied and well rounded people and role models.

  61. Thank you Heather! It seems as though we are separated at birth. Also vier we started out like your situation until my baby was 4 months old and I found out all the secrets he was keeping.

    I will make this as quick as I can.

    My sons father lives over seas and came here to visit out 18 month old baby in early November 2015 for 10 weeks, we were meant to be working on ‘fixing things.’ I asked him to stay with his brother who lives 2 hours away and see our son weekends or take him for a while I HAD EVERY EXCUSE. Needless to say I was forced to let him stay mostly for my sons sake.

    He promised he would treat us better. His ex wife and daughters rule us every time we visit him. SO… I took care of him (he was on sick leave for a minor op) I worked and studied he was great with our son but was very secretive in his phone calls to his ex wife and kids (as always). He did his usual silent treatment game to me and I eventually threw him out after 3 weeks couldn’t take the mental abuse anymore (he’s done a lot worse to me I am on anxiety pills) his passport and personal belongings were already missing from my drawer he was planning to exit its a form of punishment.

    Anyway a week later he told me he was getting the 9pm flight and he hung up and I did not hear from him until days before christmas there was no explanation just a small gift in the post and no mention of seeing his son. I cried and begged. He said he could see him for ONE day I SAID NO forget it. ONE DAY. He sees him 1-2 times per year 6 weeks usually.ONE DAY?

    Anyway, HE LEFT the country without telling me when he was actually leaving (its all a big secret) then…when he arrived back to his Island, he has his precious princesses for as long as the ex wife (wife ) needs, as usual. LIKE HE SAYS OFTEN IT ISNT FAIR ON HER SHE NEEDS A BREAK when he’s visted me….what about me? HE DID NOT EVEN SAY GOODBYE TO OUR BABY SON! He has shared custody of his daughters they live BLOCKS AWAY shared custody but goes an extra mile if the evil trouble making hag wants to get drunk and sleep with married men. They now live a 2 min drive 10 min walk but dislike each other ????did I mention he was sleeping with her most nights 9 months into the relationship? and apparently I AM CRUEL WICKED CHILDISH STEP MOTHER who doesn’t understand his kids come first DAUGHTERS AND EX WIFE he means. I am a vindictive jealous insecure childish paranoid woman when theres nothing going on with them anymore…..????? BUT NOW everything they NEED to communicate about IS FOR THE KIDS lol yes that old chestnut for the kids…who are allowed to be disrespectful to me because daddy is guilty and mummy brainwashes them with poison.

    so to the people against new partners and jilted brides now forced to be completely single mum (not the cosy part-time parent getting all the help like the ex wife) WHERE THE HELL DOES THAT LEAVE MY SON AND I? MY SON DOESNT HAVE A FATHER ANYMORE….

    oooops I forgot as somebody kindly put before THEY WERE THERE FIRST ….so what MY SON doesn’t matter because THEY WERE THERE FIRST? REALLY?

  62. Oh and one more thing….Imagine flying 2 flights with a 4 month baby from london to St Thomas ALONE! And arriving very jet lagged new mum new baby to adapt to timezones climate LOADS OF LUGGAGE and then grocery shopping boxes of it. I already had pelvic inflammatory so my bones were aching!

    Then…the day I arrive, a demanding ex wife who TELLS dad he needs to come and get his kids because she has to go out! HE IMMEDIATELY DOES AS HES TOLD! Even though I asked weeks in advance to give me at least a week to settle in before the kids come to see mum and baby. Which we agreed and apparently he let her know and she was fine with it. So she knew. When I arrived I had 2 under 10’s in a 1 bed small apartment jumping all over me and my very tired little baby boy as dad looked on.

    They sulked, because they felt sad???? and also told me THAT DADDY belongs to them because they were here first they are his REAL children. I tried to talk to them but it was hopeless DADDY let them say and do what they want AND also wiped every tear…I told him he needs to address it with their mum I don’t want them feeling left out dad assured me I have it wrong they are so happy they have a brother LIKE REALLY HAPPY! Their mum was also poisoning them. ‘mummy told us u wanted us to be a boy, are u happy you have a son daddy?’ THIS WAS ALL IN ONE DAY! I wanted to scream! And that night the ex wife accidentally on purpose ran into us I was holding my son SHES NEVER SPOKEN TO ME EVER and held my sons hand and spoke to him but ignored me! My sons father watched and then OF COURSE they needed ANOTHER brief discussion about ‘the kids’ EVEN THOUGH she had been calling and calling his phone for us to drop everything to go and get them. She left them on his doorstep in the dark and the rain. But the woman in a rush now has time to stop and chat. MY SONS FATHER SAID she was just being nice ……

    But hey, I am the needy, cruel, selfish, paranoid, ‘bipolar’ step mum who nags over nothing!

    I wish they would go back to each other.

  63. 40 year-old woman here. Every single mom I know is either dating or looking for a childless man. At my age, I know quite a few. They refuse to get involved with single dads. They’re also unwilling to have children with these childless men. These guys are not and will never be a priority for them, yet they are expected to help support and raise children that are not theirs. I never understood why a childless person with zero baggage would get involved with a single parent.

  64. I think you make a great point, and don’t understand all the hate you’re getting. It’s about boundaries, and being able to set proper ones with your kids.

    I dated a single mom who had adult children (in their 20’s), and they were still very much “on the teat”. She’d even stop in the middle of ‘adult time’ to answer the phone if they called. No borders whatsoever.

    I’m a single dad with 100% custody of my kids. I love them to death and would do anything for them. That being said, there’s also boundaries in place. Grown-up stuff is grown-up stuff, kid stuff is kid stuff. Not to the extreme of where “kids should be seen and not heard”, but for crying out loud, let’s draw some lines in the sand!

  65. I completely agree with this. My marriage to their father failed because after we had kids, we lost ourselves in the process. I was only known as Mom and he was Dad. In my second marriage, we do everything we can to make sure there is time for US, as Mellissa and Ray which doesn’t include the kids.

  66. Sorry Emma. My ex-wife was a very selfish person who put our kids last. At the end of our marriage I was doing all the child care, housecleaning, shopping, errands, cooking, laundry, etc., all while working full time. And she sat around complaining, spending money, and doing whatever she wanted whenever she wanted to. I would never file for divorce because I think marriage is a sacred covenant, but I was sure glad when she did. I bought her out of the house and never looked back. My kids and I are doing great, much better with her. She wonders why they never want to see her. She still doesn’t get it. My kids come first because they’re the best people I’ve ever met. They’re kind, considerate, smart, loving, supportive, and fun to be with. Everything my ex wasn’t. I always told myself I’ll start dating again when the kids are out of the house. Well, my last is graduating HS soon and I still don’t think I’ll be dating. Women just annoy me. When you pay attention to one, it’s like a drug. They can’t get enough, and they suck the life out of you. I’m going to enjoy being single and have fun with my grandkids when they come along. Women have nothing to add to my life – nothing at all.

    1. That is very sad. You are lonely, and stopped living your life. ” Grandkids”. Seriously? you should just start etching your tombstone now .

  67. Great article Emma, I wish my boyfriend would read it, I appreciate he “only” sees hes child ALL weekend Every weekend and he wants to totally devote that time to her yet we have four evenings alone and he sits on FB or watches tv, my annoyance is how much he takes me for granted, we recency argued because I said one day when the circumstances are right id like us to take a month or two out to do some traveling, his response was that that was “silly and you can’t drop everything to go gallivanting” I accept his responsibilities and have supported that but is it so awful that once his daughter is grown up for it to then me my turn to be a priority?

  68. This is truly amazing. I just dated a divorced man for the first time and left him after 7 mths. He was divorced for six years and initially never wanted a divorce. I never expected to compete with the bond he had with his sons . However, he repeatedly stated from the very first date that his kids “came first”. Eventually with a clear mind and head I started to feel “second.” This became apparent when he didn’t stick to seeing me every other wknd and took one wknd to be with his friends. That was all I could take. It became obvious to me that he was a helicopter parent with a guilt ridden approach and a fear of losing them . His putting me second was also selfish. This article validated what I felt all along . I now realize that what I expect from a relationship with a man divorced or not is perfectly normal. Thank you!!!

  69. I was with a man whose boys would always come between us. They refused to accept me, treated me as if I was the antichrist. Now before you all get up in arms with me about what part I played in this… My boyfriend didn’t have full custody, so his time with his boys was his time with his boys and I was not involved in that time. We were together for a long time, when it came time for them to begin college – I believed that it was finally my time to become if not first, then at least a high priority. When that didn’t happen, the relationship ended. I truly felt that it was ok for me to take the back seat to his children, when they were children. But now… If ever I am with a man who has children and their attitude towards me is that toxic and he doesn’t nip that in the bud – I’m out. I will never put myself through the pain and agony of loving a man who won’t fight for me, because I am worth it.

  70. I’m so glad that I came across this post because I have been dating this guy for about three months now and he’s very present in his 3-year-old daughters life, he sees her maybe almost every other day she spends the night at his house and I love to see a father who takes care of his child, from a separate home :)..
    BUT today is Valentine’s Day and he called me this morning and said happy Valentine’s Day but then said he was about to go spend some time with his daughter and give her her gifts. So in my mind when we made plans he never said anything about seeing his 3 year old daughter and spending most of Valentine’s Day w her. Also a holiday he don’t even “really” celebrate.. So now today he’s expressed that we’re going to hang out in the evening maybe around six or 7 o’clock. (He didn’t really put a time on it) so I’m just like out of all days this is the one day that he could have sacrificed for it to just be about me him, so in my mind I don’t feel as though he’s only going to see just his daughter like he claims.. Like she’s 3 year old… Valentine’s Day.. She doesn’t even know what Valentine’s Day is.. Come on this just doesn’t sit right w me.. And he may be telling the truth, and I am not an insecure girl by no stretch at all. But I hate feeling like I’m being lied to..

        1. The only men I”ve met who knock Valentines Day have been selfish, perpetually single men. Valentines Day takes 60 seconds to celebrate. A box of chocolate’s , a card. Less than $20. Something small to show you care. Not a lot of effort. Jaded people think otherwise & complain about it. Small actions or inactions like this can sometimes show a mans character. Actions speak louder than words.You can disagree but, that is my opinion & I’m sticking to it.

  71. Seriously, maybe that’s why you’re a single mom. Your kids, no matter what you believe and how your raise them, ARE NOT the center of the universe. I am a single mom, but for different reasons. My kid certainly does not come first for everything. I need to have my own life, too. I need to do adult things with other adults. It keeps me sane! If I want to date, that is up to me and not my child. My child is not going to be a reason to not date. I need my own life. My daughter is the most important person in my life, but I need boundaries. When my daughter is with her father, that is my time and I take full advantage of it. I believe parents deserve to have their own lives, their own things, their own identities outside of their children. My daughter is my world, but if I want to date, it’s about the man. I care about his needs and desires. If it is a serious relationship, his needs have to be satisfied. They can’t be ignored just because I have a child. Adults are on different wavelengths than their children. They have different needs, but both need love.
    I certainly am not selfish because my daughter dictates my entire life. I love to travel. I took a trip last year for two weeks, my child stayed with her father. I go out for “girls night” with my friends. I am planning on going back to school. My life didn’t stop just because I had a child. Being a mom is not a prison sentence. Those of you who say it’s selfish to not put your children first, are probably single for just that reason. You cannot block out other important people in your life just because you have children.

    I am newly single and am planning on starting to date soon. I have no qualms with leaving my daughter with a sitter once in awhile so I can go out with someone. There is nothing wrong with that! God knows, I give my child everything I can. I am a single mother and I struggle. But her needs get met, she has a loving home. But for God sake, I need a break sometimes. Dating as a single mom gives you a different perspective on life. It gives you someone else to take care of. Why is that a bad thing? Why do we have this negative view of mothers who do other things with their lives? It’s actually better for your kids to have a mom who has her own life. They are better adjusted, they are happier because mom is happier.

    If you’re in a relationship or casually dating, there is nothing wrong with making his life part of yours. Take interest in his interests. Compliment him. Make him feel good. While I have a child, that doesn’t meN I can’t date or have a boyfriend.

  72. HELP!! HELP!!!

    I been with my ( Single Father ) bf going on 6yrs. We’ve been living, or shall i say, shacking up together for since the beginning. That was number 1 mistake I now see. His son is 14 and has been living with us for 5yrs of our relationship, and it’s been nothing but Pure Hell!! His ex-wife passed away in 2011 and his son has been with us (HIM) every since. Not only am i having problems with his over protecting relationship with his son but also with the way it seems they team up on me when i speak up, i was also having problems with him Friending random attractive women on FB and leaving flirty comments, and tells me that i’m over reacting and being very immature! The FB issue i no longer care or worry about anymore because it goes through one ear out of the other when i tell him how much it hurts. But the issue with his son is something i can no longer except!! Like i mentioned in the beginning that he lost his ex-wife and he did go through some grieving times and so did his son. The more i tried to be understanding and sympathetic towards his son the more i got rejected, so now i just speak and keep a distance. I tried to explain to his son that i would never try to take his mothers place, but if he ever needed me or to talk, i’m here. His father also told me, right infront of his son that I could never take his mothers place.. (wow)! IDK, It’s such a long story and YES he even told me infront of his son once again that HIS SON COMES FIRST! He just told me the other day that i wasn’t running sh-t INFRONT OF HIS SON, once again in our house because i was getting on bf about still allowing his son to sleep on the livingroom sofa and junk up our living room that i try my best to keep clean! BTW, his son never cleans his room even when his dad tells him to. I try not to talk down on the kid because of what happened in his life, but yess he is very spoiled and disrespectful towards his dad and I. I had to Demand his father to make him speak when he enter that house instead of walking pass me like I don’t exist!!! Look, I’m 43 yrs old with no children of my own and I heard that your 40th years are suppose to be the best years of your life, and from reading all the post and my own story, I’m planning on enjoying my life without him (bf), cause from what i’ve read, it gets no better!! Pray for me!

  73. And oh, i forgot to mention about VALENTINES DAY! I told him in advance ( 2 mths ago ) that i needed some alone time with him on that, in which we never have!! Did i get that? NOOO! Instead, he picked up his grandson because his son wanted him over. And when I mentioned that was suppose to be our day alone, he went left and took his grandson home and acted as if I didn’t want his grandson there at all! WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  74. I have a rather difficult situation and at times embarrassing(Like Right Now!) 🙁 Any HELP would be appreciated 1000% over…So i have been dating a woman that has 2 children for 7 years now and we are engaged also..she does not have custody of the children 100% , she can see them whenever she wants any what not …The problem i have and i think the next man would have as well is that she spends the night at her ex-husbands house to sometimes watch the kids! Or at least that what she tells me , i really have no idea what happens there but i do know that im really not OK with it at all…I don’t think its correct and i think she is definitely crossing a line that should never be crossed …we’ve had a rough relationship throughout the years…we’ve had our share of issues (alot of issues) mostly coming from her being unfaithful to me in the past and lies a lot and i mean a lot, like everything you could possibly think of she has told a lie…Its really hard to trust her on a daily basis…i find myself not wanting to ever leave her for the fear of being alone until i find another soul mate , IF i find another soul mate…and its f^%$ing hard for me to deal with the fact that she is at her ex husbands house at least once a week spending time with the kids, but like i said i don’t trust her 100% …nd i think if i was in that situation what would i do? And i come to the conclusion that i would chances are …probably have sexual relations with my ex if i were at her house in that situation…so why would she do anything different? now lately in the past idk 3 or 4 years she’s been by my side every step of the way nd shes has been faithful or at least i think? But the lies are still being told on a daily basis..i cant handle it anymore, im about to break , my heart is about to break ..ive done everything for my fiance and still do anything for her to this day…but the things she does hurts bad …real bad…someone if you could give a bit of advice…please im begging you…ui do not know if im right for thinking the way i do or wrong for thinking the way i do???? She over time has made me feel like im always wrong about everything! Please what should i do…im desperate!!!!!! And im not talking to her again until i get some feedback on my situation.. Any advice is welcome even the tell her to “kick rocks” advice as long as there’s a reasonable explanation! HELP>>>HELP 🙁

  75. Hello, I am reading this with fascination as a late thirties woman (no kids, but hopefully will try soon) in a one year relationship with a divorced dad.

    I don’t think anyone yet has shared the perspective I had growing up. My mom raised us basically single, for good reasons. She ‘put us first’ to the point of never dating or re-marrying, though she had plenty of offers, by good men to. As an adult now, I look back and wish she had, because I had no male role model at all.

    She didn’t do this for us. She got used to being alone and independent, and to this day, with all of us grown up, she is alone. Do you imagine how hard this is on the kids now? Since she doesn’t have someone to take care of her emotional or practical needs, guess who is on the hook? Guess who doesn’t feel now like she has time for OWN relationship? Guess who feels guilty for trying to build my own relationship with my man now and ‘abandoning’ her mother.

    It is really dangerous to ‘put the kids first’ because if it continues, they, who didn’t choose to be ‘put first’, may be expected to put the parent first later (never having agreed to that deal). And they will be resented for breaking out of this expectation.

    I feel sometimes that the only solution is to move to another city, but then I really WOULD be abandoning her and of course, my life, job and man are here. I love my mom, but it would be great if I could go a few days without visiting when things get really busy without a fight or guilt trip or being accused of leaving the family.

    Just wanted to point out the dangers of making the kids your world. They may resent it later if you expect them to reciprocate (remember, the kids didn’t choose that, you did).

  76. Wow, you can see simply by the length of this comment string, and the strong emotions expressed, that this is really a heavy-weight topic that clearly has no ready “success manual.” I am the child of divorced parents who both remarried and had additional children. As an adult, single, childless woman who has (unsuccessfully) tried to date divorced dads, I have noticed some very important things about this topic:

    1) Divorced children will always be divorced children. It has been over thirty years since my parents’ divorce, and I still feel anger at having to split up my time between their two households and splitting myself up to maintain contact with them. They have not spoken in years, and with every holiday or special event, I get angst just thinking of who will get resentful because I “chose” one parent over the other. I firmly believe that the relationship between divorced parents is truly what makes the children of divorce “adjusted” or not. I have witnessed friends with divorced parents who have no trouble hanging out together and who encourage each other and have gotten over their animosity for the sake of the kids. These friends are far more successful, emotionally, in their lives than other friends who share a similar story to mine. If the children feel fulfilled and are not tugged from one side of the other, then each parent will also feel at ease and less anxious about dedicating all of their attention to them.

    2) Like is like. Period. The most successful marriages come from a set of partners that have the most things in common with them, including life story, goals, morals, etc., including whether they have been divorced, or have children, or not. A single person dating a divorced person with children faces an incredible uphill battle. Within my social circle, this seems to be a true recipe for disaster, for many reasons. The few success stories in this example usually involve couples who eventually go on to have their own children together, and create their own family unit. Eventually, this family unit by its own nature develops beyond the original children. The children of the divorce (and this comes from first-person experience), need to develop their own independence and learn to grow beyond the divorce / remarriage / re-shifting and become their own people. This is the eternal burden the children of divorce carry, and what all parents need to understand: eventually children will have their own lives and are responsible for their own emotions. YOU DO NOT GET TO BLAME YOUR PARENTS FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.

    Lastly, I leave you with something my dad told me after I tearfully had to break with the love-of-my-life, divorced dad of two kids, because I was emotionally wrecked after endless fights involving his inability to schedule his time. I consider my dad the voice of wisdom because he weathered it all. He told me that the worst mistake a divorced parent can make is to dedicate all their decision-making to their children first. “Children,” he said, “grow up and leave. The one who sticks by you in your adult years, day after day, taking care of you, putting up with you, is your spouse. They’re the ones who really matter, in the end. Think about it.”

    It is not fair for parents to end up alone because their children *could* grow up to harbor resentments towards them and society in general. Divorce sucks, period, but it should not EVER define you, parent or child.

    My final comment is that truly whether a person has children or not is rarely ever the reason why a relationship fails. In both my relationships involving men with children, the relationships ended because: a) he had deep anger and drug issues, b) he was emotionally unavailable and had an inability to keep commitments not only with myself, but with his friends and family. It is easy to blame the children, just as it is easy to hide behind them. A true adult with firm convictions, a moral code, organized, and dedicated to their family (a solid individual), will rarely give you reason to head for the hills.

    1. Very well written. Thank you!

      Do you suggest that all single people without kids shouldn’t attempt to date others with children? Just curious because, I am a little confused as to how you feel about that.

  77. This is something I’ve been learning to cope with over the past 6 yrs. Providing my son with security and stability and protecting his heart after a couple failed relationships – my guilty conscious decided it was necessary to put his needs before mine, but unfortunately that wasn’t the answer either.

    We want nothing more then for our kids to be happy and healthy and know they are loved, but I am a firm believer that they will have all that (and more) when our cup is overflowing… not when we are sacrificing our happiness, our wants, and our desires for what we think is in their best interest.

  78. You might be a wealthy single mommy but you sound like an extremely anger and bitter one as well. I happen to know a single mommy who plowed her way out of her young children’s lives through several affairs and eventual divorce. Post-divorce, she put her kids second, as you suggest, and their school has had to get involved because that ‘second place’ treatment is not serving them so well in their young lives. She bought into this ‘it’a all about me’ self-obsessed newly single and free lifestyle and forgot she had kids, and when they plaintively reminded her, she took out her irritation on them. I also know a single mommy who recently shacked up with a single daddy and the looks on the kids faces are the most tragic part of it all. Single daddy and single mommy are playing the mega-watt smile Brady Bunch charade while the truth is to be found in the soul-less and sad looks in the kids eyes. Finally, I was on the child’s end myself of what it’s like to have a vapid shrew get irritated by another man’s children, adult ones, even existing. When a woman resents a man (or v.v.) putting their children first, they ought to move on. The kids were always there and will always be there. Deal with it like a graceful admirable mature woman or get your juvenile insecure mean girl ass out of there.

  79. Lol @ the ignorance of this XD
    I see my ex putting her kids 2nd and her lust 1st.
    From my observation my ex’s poor little ones get so neglected, everywhere from hygiene, to being fed, healthy play time, medical, and much much more. I’ve had to watch this happen for a year and a half’ish now. The children are 10 months and 4 years old. The 10 month year old is my daughter.
    I’ve watched time and time again her push her kids aside so she can do stuff with her bf, or play video games. It’s down right disgusting. So no she doesn’t need to be putting her bf and video games first before he kids. But hey its how her mother was while she was growing up, so its no wonder she doesn’t see the issues, she was raised to see no problem with such behavior.

  80. im tired of single parents who try to ‘date’- they dont want a partner, what they want is someone
    to tell how much THAT person is going to be second to their kids, who they will spend ALL
    their time with and ignore the other person. It’s not normal to just want to hang out with
    your kids all the time. Normal people want a partner too. These idiot single parents
    are mostly stupid people who need to stick to their kids and get out of the dating world

    im not a mother, but if I was, you better damn well believe i’d be overwhelmed and lonely
    and want a man. I would’t be like..well my kids come first and ur nothing. Most guys do
    that to me. They don’t want a girlfriend or a date, they just want their kids

  81. there are a lot of screwed up narcissistic idiots out there who use the ‘my kids come first’ excuse as a means to control their partner, and devalue them. Its not that their kids come first- its that they want to mistreat another person and use that as an excuse. Of course someones kids should come first, but if u were married to your wife or husband, wud u say that to them? these idiots are jerks usually. Really it should be an equality thing and everyone is important. guys or women who say “my kids come first” run from those losers

  82. Hoping to get some insight from reading these post as I’ve been dating a man for the past six months with two beautiful girls….one 24 and one 16 and am starting to see major ‘red flags’. I am certainly mature enough to realize that there are times when the girls are a priority and times when I will be….the challenge for me (us) is that he and he only determines who, when,why and where the prioritys fall.
    His relationship with his ex is so full of hate and anger and he is extremely bitter in regard to the divorce…most of his anger stems from the fact that he is retired military and lost half of his pension….more about lost $$$ than lost love. His own relationship with the girls has its major ups and downs and his tendency is to overcompensate when the times are good so that he can be ‘the cool parent…the fun parent’.
    Believe me when I say the girls are very aware of how to ‘push’ their Dad’s buttons and have no problem with using him to get what they want and once they have it…go on their way. On many occassions he has made plans with them only to have them cancel minutes before or just not show up.
    He has told me on more than one occassion that he’s in love with me and wants a future….he has also stated that until I can commit to a future…his children will always be his priority. Once I commit than I will then be his first priority and his children second. Why does there have to be a priority at all? It seems his love already has conditions and this is very worrisome.
    When plans are made….he consults and makes plans with the children and then lets me know that of course I’m invited as well. For instance….Easter weekend is coming up and I was just informed that one of the girls wants to go out boating on Good Friday and the other on Saturday…. I’m invited to join…never once asked what plans I may have in mind.
    Am I wrong to feel that perhaps I should have been included in some of this decision process or is this something I should just come to expect? Should I come to expect that his girls will always be first and foremost? It’s not like they are young children…the oldest one lives with her boyfriend and the youngest one barely spends time with him. Any advice would be very appreciated.

  83. Oh.. Ok. Just make space for them if you want to date. That putting your children first isn’t taking the relationship seriously. So… Shoving the children off on sitters is the better answer? That’s healthier for them? Dating normally means going out as a whole unit. THAT is why it doesn’t happen, unless you are selfish enough to just tell your children, “Well I’m going out again this week. The sitter will make you something later and tuck you in.” This is HORRIBLE advice and, actually, arrogant. Smug. And by the way, My children need me more than I need a relationship. Because they’ve already experienced abandonment. And will not experience it twice because I feel like dating. They are (And despite what this arrogant article says) and SHOULD be my number one priority and relationship. In a Disney universe, sure. The “Perfect partner” will come along that doesn’t mind time split with my children. But the reality is much different. I’m a single father of two children with full physical and legal custody. So this isn’t just a “Mom” thing, which I’m really tired of hearing about too. Single fathers go through the same things and are just kind of… Dismissed. Anyone that puts another person ahead of their children is too selfish to be called a parent to begin with.

  84. Sometimes we just need a little time
    Off from parenting…time to refresh and reboot ourselves. It’s nice to get away once In a great while. Nothing wrong with putting the kids in the back seat once and while. It’s not like we’re saying we don’t love our children but as adults we need time too. My fiancé and I have kids of our own and we make time usually when the kids are with their father. And it’s important to to be able to get that alone time because if we don’t take time out for one another the relationship can become stale.

  85. Run run run , of your dating a man who overcompensates for being a divorced dad, I’m married to a man now of 4 yrs that takes his kids needs and feelings above mine, his kids are 29 and 25, when I first met the daughter she said his money is my money and will always be my money, why didn’t I run that was my first time meeting her, and he said nothing, I waited till I got him alone and asked why she thought what he worked for was hers, he said she was just playing I told hI’m that was disrespectful and that I promised him it wouldn’t happen again because I would put her in her place, his son just as bad has the mental capacity of a 12 yo can’t do anything without calling his dad they talk on the phone at least 8 times per day and he sees nothing wrong, if I walk Into the room conversation changes, im so tired and done, I’m preparing to get out of this marriage asap, if u can’t be a united front with ur husband u shouldn’t be married, but understand why he never let me around his kids when we dated makes sense now he was hiding a lot of dysfunction and the financial dependence they have with them, I would tell any woman dont get involved with a man who don’t have a functional relationship with his family the red flags were there I ignored them and I Regret ever meeting him, but it’s not over till its over, I will be in a healthy relationship again….The blessing is take what u learn and apply it to your next relationship and put God first…….peace and blessings.

  86. This is a sad example of today’s worldly values. Marriage is for life as God intended. Sadly people in this world are all about Yolo! 25 years later my husband left for a child. He’s 46 she’s 30. Fine be a poor excuse but even worse he left his kids. Sees them maybe 2x week. No time for weekend visitation. He told them about the mistress early on and constantly brings her up but never introduces her. He implies she’s more important than them. As their only responsible parent I will assure you that my sexuality will be put on hold so my kids feel secure that I value them more than some instant gratification. That they learn those values so they can honor their future spouse. Your opinion is yours lady but I personally don’t agree with you. Thanks for sharing what not to do. And don’t date a divorced guy with kids and expect you’re more important than his children. That is the selfish attitude that so many entitled spouses leave their families in the first place!

  87. There are many good points in this article. Yes, a relationship should be focused on the man and the woman, but at the same time each person needs to put their children first. If their children do not like the person their mother/father is going out with, then that opinion needs to come before the opinion of the parent. Otherwise the parent is being extremely selfish and only building resentment toward their parent. Also, if a parent ignores the child’s needs (using the example in this article) where the child had an altercation with the hockey coach, then the parent is subliminally telling the child that their life and needs come second. Finally I find this article fairly selfish, yes, a happy relationship between the adults is obviously a good thing and benefits everybody, but at the same time if that is all the parent is focused on, then their priorities should be reevaluated and their children are being neglected. As a child that is suffering from the divorce of my parents, and having one parent who is dating somebody none of us children like, putting the parents relationship first is the worst thing you can do.

  88. I’m a single father, I have alternate weekend with my son and certain vacation time. I have joint legal custody, these are things that I fought to have the rights to see my child and have important bonding time with him for my and his development. So of the woman I date can’t accept the fact that one weekend is for me and my son and the other weekend is for her then she can kick bricks, BUT if she is willing to give time to get to know me and understand that one weekend is for her and the other is for my child then so be it. Women tend to want to rush things especially if they to have a child. I’m sorry I don’t want to meet your kid yet unless we are 6 months to a year into dating and I know we have an understanding on both parts. When it comes to a point of living together and my son comes over to visit that is when we can have an awesome family dynamic of half brothers/sisters and step mom or vice versa and my child feels as if they belong in the family and home.

  89. But to all those mums with spoilt brats who won’t go to bed until mummy does and insists on sleeping in her bed, at what point does the man say enough is enough, it’s a balance, of course you would expect a partners child to have priority but there also has to be respect for your own needs and the kids need to understand this,

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