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?
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:
- Challenges of dating a single parent
- How to date a man with a child
- Great examples of couples putting their kids second
- Emma's takeaway on dating with kids
Dating with kids: Challenges of dating a single parent
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 centriforce 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 sense of security.
Do these statements ring true to you? …
“My boyfriend puts his child before me”
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.
Feel like your relationship is at a crossroads? I recently got a psychic reading from Keen, which allows you to pick from hundreds of mediums, tarot readers and psychics for a live reading. Jenn, the medium I chose, assured me my relationship would get over this rough patch.
Keen has served more than 15 million customers in its 20-year history. The first 3 minutes are free, and the next 10 minutes cost $1.99 Try Keen now free >>
You may be introduced as “the new friend”
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.
“Dating a man with kids and feeling left out”
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.
Sometimes you will not feel like a priority
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 your bring to the relationship. Everyone is a human here.
“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.
“My boyfriend's child is ruining our relationship”
Or, his kids start to manipulate him and have an upper hand in the family — and he lets him.
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 these red flags when we are dating someone with kids.
How do you date a man with a child?
Deeper information can be found to this question in these posts:
Looking for a serious relationship? Our No. 1 recommendation is eHarmony, which is consistently rated the most trusted dating site, and is designed specifically for those looking for meaningful, long-term connections. A+ Better Business Bureau rating, and claims “Every day, an average of 438 singles marry a match they found on eharmony.” 3-month free guarantee and 25% off with WSM25 with eharmony.
Great examples of couples who put their kids second in dating
A couple years ago, a guy I went out with, read my blog before we went out, and mulled my opinions on putting your kids behind your romantic partner.
Over cajun food, he described what sounds like a remarkably happy suburban childhood headed by parents who enjoyed a 40-year marriage, five kids, and two successful careers.
My date has only the fondest memories of watching his dad court his mom on their weekly date nights and annual parent-only vacations — in addition to the family road-trip.
Staying home with the babysitter was tons of fun. “My dad made it clear that his relationship with my mom was the center of everything, while he was also the best dad ever,” he said.
What could be a better example of the benefits of putting your romantic partner first?
Emma’s takeaway: Her final word on dating a man with kids
Give yourself permission to stop feeling guilty.
Focus on research that finds that kids don't need nearly as much time with their parents as we think they do.
A University of Maryland meta study of 34 papers found that after age 2, it makes literally zero difference how much time parents spent with their kids. In fact, researchers found that the pressure to spend so much quality time with children stresses moms out so much that it may actually make us worse parents than if we just focused our time on our relationships, health and making more money, and less on frontal-lobe development and deep connection with our children. That is right: We are spending TOO MUCH time with our children.
U.S. moms of 3-to-11-year-olds spend an average of 11 to 30 hours each week either fully engaged in activities with their kids, or nearby and accessible when needed. And for kids in their early teens, moms are there between 11 and 20 hours each week. On average, in 1975 moms spent just over 7 hours per week with their kids. We are spending more time with our children, yet feeling more guilty and stressed.
Want to date? Go for it — AND DON’T FEEL GUILTY!
Schedule one date per week — with guys from Tinder, your boyfriend or your husband (or, if your relationship permits — all three!) Get started today and choose your online dating platform >>
Not into online dating apps? Consider a matchmaking service.
Need a sex life? NO GUILT FOR YOU – ONLY BOOTY!
Do what you have to do.
Need to hit the gym?
HIRE A SITTER AND DON’T LOOK BACK!
Looking forward to that business trip even though you have to leave the kids at home?
I’m not worried you'll neglect the kids. If you are like the professional moms I know, the pendulum swings way in the other direction — and you’re far more likely to neglect yourself.
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.