Just because he loves kids doesn’t mean he will love YOUR kids


A couple months ago I wrote about what I expected to be a sweet one-off hook-up with a hot motorcycle-riding Sicilian I was convinced I had nothing in common with.

I was right, but I was also wrong (hate that!).

Yeah, I got the fun date I was after, but there was something else that had me going back for more. A man who casually quotes Joseph Conrad is certainly worth a second date. And what girl doesn’t love to wake in the morning to find herself tucked into bed, the previous night’s clothes neatly folded on the dresser, heels paired nearby? But Lou’s most compelling quality is his capacity to love children who are not his own in a way that I have not yet encountered in men I date.

As I got to know Lou, he chatted about different kids in his life — a teenage nephew in a troubled situation who lived with him for a few years, and is now a college student on full scholarship. Lou shows me pics on his phone of two preschool-aged nieces, and laughs about their antics when he takes them Sunday morning breakfasts. He’s had several long-term relationships with single moms, and seems sad when I ask about those women’s kids who he no longer sees. Whether it is simply his nature to easily love children who are not biologically his, or that these kids fill a void created by the absence of children of his own, I do not know. But he made me realize that my list of qualities I’m seeking in a long-term partner was woefully short.

Now, all the way at the very top of my list is: He can love my kids.

I date mostly men with kids, partly because I find it hot and helpful to see what kind of dad a guy is to his own children. Until Lou, I blindly assumed that if a man is an adoring, devoted fathers to his own children, those qualities automatically transfer to the children of other people. People like second spouses. People like me.

But as I get to know blended families and spend time as a single parent, I can see why step-families are often rife with challenges, and the divorce rates for second and third marriages is so high — especially if those unions include children from previous relationships. Parenting is hard. Relationships are hard. Throw two families together — that is some tricky business.

But I don’t believe it is impossible with the right couple. The right man. Now, when I’m sussing out a guy, and I smell a potential long-term mate, “good with kids” and “great dad” simply are not enough. I need a man who has the bandwidth to love other people’s children. My children.

A few Sunday mornings ago while hanging out, Lou called his nieces’ parents to arrange their weekly outing. He put on speaker phone (Lou’s no dumbass: he knows chicks love guys who are good with kids), broadcasting the squeaky, yammering voice that can only belong to a happy 3-year-old girl. “What are you doing, sweetie?” he asked her. “Hi-Uncle-Louie!-I-went-to-swim-lessons!-Are-you-going-to-take-us-to-breakfast!-I-want-the-pancakes!-When-are-you-coming-I-love-you-Uncle-Louie!””I love you, Honey!” he said, grinning his huge, adorable smile. “I love you, too.”

Emma Johnson

Emma Johnson is a veteran money journalist, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post’s ‘Must Read” list.

Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.

A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Read more about Emma here.

5 thoughts on “Just because he loves kids doesn’t mean he will love YOUR kids

  1. This made me smile. A lot. I’m looking forward to reading more. :-) I like this part: “I need a man who has the bandwidth to love other people’s children.” I, too, need someone with a lot of bandwidth, a lot of expansiveness. Actually, I don’t _need_ that. But that’s it would take for a new partner to fit into my little family’s life. It sounds like a lot of fun.

  2. Not to rain on anyone’s parade here but I have experienced the same kind of man and be warned: for them it is easy to be great to children they are not emotionally or financially responsible for, no life stress involved. I went on to having this man’s baby, he bailed immediately when I told him I was pregnant and has visited his biological son on a few occasions and still spends more time doting on my daughter when he is here than his own child. He loves kids…other peoples that he is not responsible for. I too was impressed that he had long term relationship with single women, in fact, all his previous relationships were with single moms. He was filling his own void and focusing on the children, mine included, to make it seem he was in the relationship. Preying on what he knows melts a single moms heart and so what if he isn’t the greatest with our adult relationship, he loves my kid (s) and I love that…he’s a preditor. Hope the same is not true of Lou and you got yourself a good man. But to single moms out there…just be sure you fully understand the motives behind what seems like such amazing behavior.

    1. Hey Mickey – Well, Lou was more than a year ago, I’m now involved with another childless man who, well, so far so good. I wonder: What constitutes a predator? Is there part of the story we’re not hearing?

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