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7 things you need to know before dating a man with kids in 2024

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I meet most men that I date online. 

If you decide you will be dating a man with kids, it's very common for guys with children to write in their dating profiles:

“My kids come first,”


“My daughter is the center of my world!”

Should a man put his girlfriend first?

A man texting beside a woman who is looking far and ignoring him. Check out these 7 things you need to know before dating a man with kids in 2024.

If you ask me should a man put his girlfriend first, here’s my quick answer:

At first, no.

But once the relationship becomes a serious, long-term commitment, the relationship should come before the kids' every whim. However, child wellbeing is first.

More details on:

Hey single mom— Do you tell your son he’s the man of the house? 16 tips for raising sons

7 things to know when dating a man with kids

Do these statements ring true to you?

1. “My boyfriend puts his child before me”

A man lifting a baby in the air. Check out these 7 things you need to know before dating a man with kids in 2024.

This is so common and can be a tricky situation. Especially early in a new relationship with kids, when you crave more time with your man, he prioritizes his children, and you feel left out.

2. You may be introduced as “the new friend”

A man and a woman giving a high five, , each of them with a kid. Read more about 7 things you need to know before dating a man with kids in 2024.

It’s hard to date when you have kids — it can be confusing and overwhelming, parents can feel guilty and ashamed (whether that is justified or not). Maybe you and your lover don’t really know what to call each other yet, or your boyfriend is worried that saying “girlfriend” will be confusing or overly committal. 

Just talk about it ahead of time and be honest about your feelings. Also, be sensitive to how he is feeling and his confusion or overwhelm.

3. “Dating a man with kids and feeling left out”

A woman in shades and corporate attire talks to a man driving a motorcycle. Here are 7 things you need to know before dating a man with kids in 2024. You can check them.

Perhaps he wants to mostly keep his kids separate from his romantic life, or he is taking slower to blend his relationship with his home life. Or, maybe you expect more from the relationship than is healthy. Or, maybe you each want different things from the relationship.

Consider filling your own life with meaningful friendships, a career, hobbies and fitness. Perhaps your boyfriend will invite you into his homelife if you are less clingy. Or, you will each realize you want different things from the partnership and go your separate ways.

4. Sometimes you will not feel like a priority

A man packing his suitcase while a woman looks at him. Want to know 7 things you need to know before dating a man with kids in 2024? Find them here.

When your boyfriend puts his kids first, it is natural to feel left out, and sometimes you will not feel like a priority. And maybe you’re not — after all, your relationship may be new, he may not be that serious about you or the relationship, or maybe he is just busy with things outside of his relationship. 

Also: you may be especially vulnerable or needy for reasons that have nothing to do with him, and are issues that you bring to the relationship. Everyone is a human here. 

5. “Boyfriend not bonding with my child”

There are so many reasons why a boyfriend/girlfriend does not bond with the other partner's child. These include:

  • The child is jealous of the new partner
  • The partner is jealous of the child
  • Their personalities just don't jibe—just like two adults do not naturally get along, this can be true for a child-adult relationship, too.

Here are some tips:

  • Be patient. Once both the partner and child realize there is enough love to go around, everyone may calm down and connect
  • Find ways for your boyfriend or girlfriend to spend one-on-one time together. Focus on everyday tasks (rather than big special outings or treats), like a grocery store run, washing the car, or cooking together. Once you remove yourself, they have a chance to create their own bond
  • Keep in mind that children go through phases they quickly grow out of, as do adults. Likewise, relationships have ups and downs and seasons.
  • Seek outside perspectives. Ask your friends with blended families for advice, and ask them to watch how your new brood interacts — and be open to feedback. Consider therapy.

6. “My boyfriend's child is ruining our relationship”

A couple arguing while a child tries to cover her ears. Find out more about these 7 things you need to know before dating a man with kids in 2024.

Or, his kids start to manipulate him and have an upper hand in the family — and he lets them.

Men, just like moms, can feel the pressure to prioritize children above all else. Maybe he feels guilty that he is not with his child's mom, or that he left the relationship, or he wants to be a better father than his own dad.

Or, maybe he is using his child as an excuse not to get close to you. This may be a conscious decision — or it could be percolating at an unconscious level. We all have ways we sabotage relationships out of fear of intimacy, and we need to be aware of red flags when we are dating someone with kids.

7. Some women report feeling unimportant in a relationship

If a man makes a point of consistently prioritizing his children over you, you might feel like you don’t matter in comparison, and feelings of jealousy may start to arise.

Relationships are all about communication, and if you don’t feel like you are an important part of your partner’s life, tell him that — or evaluate whether this is the right relationship for you. 

This Reddit user is the perfect example of someone who got into a relationship with a single father without realizing she wouldn’t always be the priority. People in the comments were quick to point out that she was the red flag — not her widowed boyfriend: 

I hear that so many times from both women and men who are heartbroken, abused or otherwise disappointed that a relationship or marriage didn't work out. In hindsight, red flags were always there >>

Into older men? Do’s and don’ts for dating an older man

Check out this video of Adrienne Bailon from The Real talking about dating a man with a child:

Is it hard to date a man with kids? Challenges to be aware of:

Yes, it can be hard dating someone with a child because you have to contend with things like custody schedules, ex partners, and eventually meeting his kids. That being said, every single dad has different circumstances, and if you are willing to be flexible, you can have a meaningful relationship with a man who has kids. 

When it comes to relationships, I'm fond of saying, “You never really know 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.

In these families, the parents put their relationship before the kids. They are the dynamic force around which the family's life orbits. And everyone thrives as a result.

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 children the prominent focus of your life and tell partners: My kids come first.

After all, children can be so demanding — not to mention fulfilling.

Plus, if you've gone through a divorce or another crisis that landed you as a single parent, you are no doubt concerned about giving your kids extra care and a sense of security.

A few tips for dating single dads that may apply, though of course every dad is unique:

  • Be respectful of his time with his kids. 
  • Be mindful that if he doesn’t have his kids 50% of the time, that may not be his choice.
  • He’s the parent — not you.

Continue reading more tips here on dating a man with kids: The benefits of dating a single dad

Red flags when dating a man with kids

Some dating red flags include addiction, violent behavior, poor money management, infidelity, and other forms of undesirable behavior. Although no one is perfect, how your partner chooses to handle those problems is important.

Here’s how to spot red flags when dating a man with kids:

Non-existent or contradictory digital footprint

While not everyone is on social media, you should be able to find something online about him. If your Google search turns up nothing, it’s possible that it’s on purpose. He might be running from the law or not truthful about his identity. 

Conversely, a quick check of socials could reveal tons of information that contradicts what he told you, such as:

  • Being married or in a committed relationship
  • Criminal activity
  • Extreme political stances
  • Co-parenting drama

Poor dating etiquette

If you decide to go on a first date, pay attention to his behavior. Any of these actions or reactions could be deal breakers:

  • Being late or not showing with no explanation or apology
  • Being rude to waitstaff
  • Getting drunk
  • Speaking negatively about his ex
  • Starts talking about sex early in the date
  • Doesn't ask questions or share his thoughts
  • Being disrespectful of your boundaries

While a sick child or parental duties can impact plans, red flags shouldn’t be ignored. Pay attention to common red flags to ensure that you are walking into a healthy relationship and keep your eyes open for bad behavior as you progress and get to know him better.

Signs of narcissistic behavior

Narcissists are all about themselves. They often lack empathy for others, require and show excessive admiration, and see themselves as superior to others. 

Here are some relationship red flags that you are dating a man with a narcissistic personality:

  • He showers you with excessive gifts early in the relationship and may pressure you to return the favor
  • He calls you names or lashes out at you if you don’t agree with his point of view
  • He gaslights you — making you feel crazy for bringing up issues about you relationship that bother you

Even if he does not show these behaviors toward you, watch how he treats others, especially his children.

You can always do a background check on someone who seems shady:

Consumed with their past, their child, or themselves

Does he always talk about his ex? Does he only talk about his child? Maybe he makes it a point to talk only about himself, taking over any conversation you try to have. Be aware of how you communicate with each other. It can be a telltale sign that something is not right.

No access to family or friends

If you’re seriously dating but have never met his child, family, or friends, you should ask why. It can be normal to wait to introduce a new person, but if the timeframe is excessive (a year or more), there could be an issue.

Pros and cons of dating a man with kids

While dating can be a fulfilling experience, there are some pros and cons to consider when dating a man with kids:

Pros of dating a man with kids 

  • If you progress in your relationship you’ll get a chance to meet his kids. Getting to know them and being a part of their lives can be rewarding.
  • You get to see how he treats his children and the mother of his children, so you know what you’re potentially getting into. Is he patient? Loving? Responsible? If so, he’ll probably make a great partner and parent if you eventually have kids.
  • You’ll cherish the moments you spend together because time is often limited.
  • As a girlfriend, the responsibility of raising children is not in your hands. But you get a real-world look at what life would be like if you had children of your own.

Cons of dating a man with kids

  • His kids will come first. He can’t provide the kind of spontaneity you might crave. Even with planning, expect cancellations if his child isn’t feeling well or needs him at the last minute. 
  • His kids might not accept you at first. It’s nothing personal. Just be yourself and give them time to warm up to you.
  • Eventually, you’ll probably have to interact with his kids’ mom. This can be stressful depending on the circumstances of the former relationship. 
  • If he has full physical custody and his children are young, it will be hard to have alone time with him.

Dating a man with kids FAQs

Is dating a man with a child worth it?

Emyli Lovz, dating coach for men and co-founder of emlovz, a matchmaking and coaching business, says dating a man with a child can absolutely be worth it.

“If he's a loving father, it shows that he has the capacity for deep love, that he can nurture others, and that he's responsible (hopefully),” she says. “It's best if the woman is also a mother so they can better understand one another and the priorities that come with being a parent.”

This single father on Reddit wanted to know what women thought about dating a man with a child:

These Reddit users shared their thoughts and experiences about dating a man with kids:

Reddit users share opinions on dating a man with kids.
Reddit user talks about the struggles of dating a man with kids.
Reddit user shares a positive experience about dating a man with kids.
Reddit user talks about the hard part of dating a man with kids.

What about those who say never date a man with a child?

Never is a strong word. Lovz says we should be wary of people who use blanket statements about who you should and shouldn't date. 

“It’s about the person, not the checklist,” Lovz says. “As a mother, if I was ever to become single, I would want to date someone who also understood parenthood.”

This Redditor agrees that it helps to have the common ground of parenthood when dating a man with kids:

Reddit user shares thoughts about why common ground matters when dating a man with kids.

Meanwhile, some have decided that never is the right word for how they feel about dating a man with children:

Ultimately, it will boil down to personal preferences, details, and experiences. Whether dating a single mom or a single father, you have to make sure that the choice is right for you and consider the benefits and consequences.

Should I be dating a man with a baby on the way?

When a baby is on the way, you need to consider whether dating is a good idea. Lovz says you might be involving yourself in an emotional tornado. However, it will all depend on the context.

“You might want to understand why he isn't in a relationship with the woman having his child,” she says.

Here’s what some Reddit users thought about dating a man with a baby on the way:

Bottom line: Emma’s final word on dating a man with kids

If you find yourself dating a man with kids, remember that he is juggling parenthood with his desire to date, he may or may not want more kids, and he may prioritize his kids over you — at least for now.

You may be hesitant to date a guy with children but find yourself surprised by this new relationship with both him and his children — or you may be satisfied with spending time alone with him during the time his kids are with their mom, and keeping that part of his life separate.

When dating a man with kids, be open to some magic, while also honoring your own dating goals and feelings — pretty much like every other relationship.

Should a man put his girlfriend first?

No. But once the relationship becomes a serious, long-term commitment, the relationship should come before the kids' every whim. However, child wellbeing is first.


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.

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

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

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.

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.

Run as fast as you can. This is the prime example of what happens when a child is “being put first”. This goes for married parents who raise their own children in a “regular” family as well. Don’t let your children run the show, people.

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…..

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.

Well said, Nic.

Single mothers with “My kids will always come first, deal with it!” attitude, take notes. Putting your partner/spouse first doesn’t mean not taking care of your kids. It means not letting your kids run your private life.

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.

I completely agree with you, Jenn!

So many single parents are defensive, negative, and quite bitter. Even though I am not a single parent, I understand where they are coming from, being a single parent must be hard. BUT, if they are REALLY looking for a long-lasting relationship, they should drop the “My kids come first, just deal with it!” attitude. Their relationships can’t be long-lasting ones if the partner is always made felt like the forever third wheel in the relationship. Not a lot of people are willing to put up with that especially if they themselves don’t have any children on their on. Boundaries need to be set, and children shouldn’t be let to run the life of adults.

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.

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.

Well said, Rita, I agree with every word.

I’m married and I don’t have kids yet, my husband doesn’t have any kids either, however we are about to start our own little family. I totally agree, the spouses/partners need to put each other first. A marriage/relationship should be based on LOVE and in order to privide a a safe, happy, and balanced background for the children, the relationship/marriage itself and the love between the partners/spouses should be nourished.

Rita. I love this post and agree 100% . I have seen profiles that said my kids come first. And I agree with you Rita, it says to women you will never be that important to me. It’s like they feel like they are in the running to win father of the year and the prize is a trip to Disneyland for them and their kids lol. I believe if people cannot commit to a relationship and be a great parent at the same time dont be in a relationship. People should work on any hang ups or concerns they have about their past relationships or any anxieties about their children coping or whatever before committing to another relationship. Going into a new relationship with past issues or concerns is unfair on the individual, their potential partner and on the children. Children need to see what a loving relationship looks like while being loved and cherished also. How parents manage their relationships and their parental responsibilities is strictly up to the parent. They are the adults. It’s difficult but I believe it’s possible.
Helping a child to cope with the fact their parent has a partner if that is the issue, needs to be done sensitively empathizing, modeling respect, giving time, encouraging them to talk about how they are feeling without being rude and disrespectful to partner etc. This is what is needed when a child acts out. They dont need to be red carpet children as I have seen it described, and rule the roost. They want to feel loved, that they are understood like their parents get them.The same goes for a partner if they are having concerns. Listen to them, tell them they are loved and appreciated, empathize, make time etc. They need to feel like their partner understands them too especially if the partner has no children or if they have different parenting styles, attitudes towards relationships etc. I believe this is what the author of the original article is trying to say.

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.

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 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…

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

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…

Very well said, Nicole! My husband and I are about to start our little family, neither of us has any kids yet. Our marriage will always come first. :) I’ve also noticed that in all the happy, strong, and balanced marriages spouses always put each other first. I feel like a lot of people think that not putting your kids first means not taking care of them. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

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.

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

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!

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

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

“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).

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.

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:

Well, Shereene, if you often cancelled dates and didn’t really make time for him, I understand why he gave you such an ultimatum. I say, if this concert is a once in a lifetime type of event, then go, regardless of what your boyfriend says. If he breaks up with you, then so be it. But if your son has a concert very often, I’m pretty sure it’s not much of a deal if you miss one.

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.)

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.

The relationships where another the adult relationship exist, the properly consolidated ones, where the adult’s relationship’s take constructive prioritising mutually … can give children security.Yet this IS NEVER part of the dating stage relationship!It only applies to the committed shared lives arena, marriage type situations.

The dating stage begins and runs essentially seperate from the childrens lives. It needs to fit in with the childrens primary needs being catered for and protected.

That doesn’t mean children get to eliminate well organised re secure predictable childminding options for occassional parental abscences. Such may include special occasion outings, work functions, dinners/movies with friends and even dating.

While someone is just “only a date”, they ought to get the same respect over that arrangement and during that time as would be enforced were it a work dinner for networking, your brother’s 3 am return from overseas airport pick up.

So don’t being too ready to cancell, take calls from kids, and then leave early.Enacting organised respectful behaviour allows you to indirectly, but strongly be commanding the respectful treatment you need, others acceptance of your boundaries and needs. Includes kids, friends, work … future partners even.

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.

You’ve got the perfect perspective.

People also need to ask what’s the deficiency or deviancy in persons who think that they can persue a constructive partner relationship with a divorced parent of kids under 18?

Furthermore, you know that the divorced parent of kids under 18 attempting to repartner is generally an inadequate parent.

Beligerant and /or clueless re raising children, likewise re basis for building constructive relationship. Such seem without a conscience in parenting children responsibly, or issues of fairness to partners unconcerned that often the latter aspects are mutually exclusive.

Finish raising the fledlings in the nest. That’s what birds do even when have lost a partner. When they’ve flown you can make new nest filling it with new birds.

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….


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.

Well said. Share your perspective!
You are spot on. Parent’s owe it to their children to raise them as close as possible to the way they would have been raised on the intact marriage without the turbulance of outsiders competing for dominant positions, having priority in relationships, rescources, reshaping daily living patterns, bringing in different value systems, foreign priorities and coping with another adult outsiders ambivalent attitudes.

Nor should kids risk suffering from repeated losses of the no intention to commit/or remain irresponsibly easygoing,essentially nice, heaps of fun, easily “picked up” generally much younger date partner.This non invasive adult is in couch surfing mode. He/she often becomes the kids great activity mate, skateboarding, sharing latest dance moves,X- box role play games etc..He/she clicks better with the kids -they have the mutual loss grief when relationships over.It ends when parent person realises sex is all that’s shared in common.

Fact is, it’s mainly the stupidly niave, the dateless desperates, loosers or the personality disordered deviants who choose to invade a step household with kids under 18 for the long term.

Divorced persons with kids can go out occasionally with people who want to share a some fun outings etc.It would be well enough adjusted types who haven’t any immediate long term intent and very happy to give your family life a wide berth.These are the normal healthy people who have situations or stages of their life where temporarily they aren’t in a position to date people who would hope for something serious long term. Yet just like the sensible divorced parent, they would still like to share some company over mutual interest areas from time to time. Makes for a mutually complimentary dating pool.

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…

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.

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.

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.

Hi Brandy – sounds like you have to make some tough decisions here. Your boyfriend is not going to change, I’m afraid.

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.

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!

Hi Amber, how are things now? I can relate to your situation. I feel like I have fall out of love with my stepkids. I’ve been part of this family for a bit over 8 years and was relatively good until a year or so ago. I have no kids, are in my mid 40s and my partner in his 50s. Kids are now 17 and 20 (away at university), and a third one (18) full time with his mom (left around 4 years ago on his own will). When they are here, I try to give them space with their father, as I find difficult to show care and love. I never insult them, ask them or tell them anything, but now being quiet is bitting back at me. Their father has told me that if I dont like his kids and show care and love, this relationship cant continue. I dont mind them, I just dont like them. I was never allowed to teach them, correct them or ask anything since it was taken badly, so I said less and less and tried to look away. So I felt gradually through time, out of love with them. I still love my partner, bue everytime they are around my withdrawal is teken negative and things like not running to the door to welcome them, creat a big argument with my partner. I dont want to think this will be the breaking point, but it looks like it wont change. Any advice?

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