It might seem like a daunting scenario but being in a relationship with a man who has children doesn't need to be stressful. You have to be prepared for the situation before you get involved as it will definitely be different than dating a man without kids but, if approached the right way, it can certainly lead to an amazing relationship. Here are 6 tips to ensuring your relationship's success.
Accept his ex's role in his life
Unless he's a widower or the mother of his child is no longer in the picture for whatever reason, you have to come to terms with the fact that his ex will always be in his life and that they could even have a good friendship between them. They share a history and they created life together and looking at his kids will always remind you of her existence. In fact, you might also see her often, as they co-parent their kids and you come across her during drop offs or pick-ups. You can't be the jealous type and ask questions like, “What does she want from you?” or “Why is she always calling you?”. Be happy for him that he has a good, stress-free relationship with her or give him the support he needs if she's the difficult type. Don't let their happiness or bitterness affect your relationship with your man.
Know that you might not be his top priority
Most men who have children take the responsibility very seriously (as they should) and if he's a good father – and therefore a good man – he'll always put his children first. You have to accept that you might not be the most important thing in his life and that he can't build his world around you and do things at the drop of a hat to please you. So don't throw a fit if he cancels plans at the last minute because his child is sick or if he won't commit to a romantic weekend away because his child has an important football game. Be flexible and understanding and you'll be more content. And don't compete with the kids for his attention – you're the grown-up here, so act it.
Don't meet his kids if you're not serious
You might feel you already know his kids as he's told you so much about them. Meeting them is a clear sign you're ready to take the relationship a step further so don't do this unless you're ready. Do it only when you feel your relationship is stable and you can contemplate a future with him. And, let him take the lead with this decision; it's only right that he's cautious about introducing another person into his family equation. So don't push to meet them, they're his kids and he'd know best when to bring you into their lives. And if you don't see a future with him, break it off before you meet his kids, as you don't want them inadvertently involved in your 'mess' too.
Don't try to be their parent
You are not their mother and never will be so stop trying to act like it. Don't attempt to discipline them, for example, and never ever tell your man how to raise his kids. If he asks for advice related to a situation with his kids, be as neutral as possible and make it clear to him that they're his kids and that, at the end of the day, he should be the one making these decisions. And never ever talk about the kids in front of them. The only time you should discuss his kids with him is if they do something unpleasant towards you, such as disrespecting you in any way. In that case, be honest with him but let him deal with them directly.
Play it cool with his kids
Once you're introduced to them, don't go over the top and try too hard to be their best friend. Meet them at neutral places like the zoo or a park – instead of at his home – and don't come on too strong by buying them gifts and showering them with hugs and kisses. You might be dating their dad but you're a stranger to them, after all. So don't scare them away with OTT gestures or make it seem like you're trying to replace their mother. Take baby steps and let them slowly open up to you as they get comfortable with having you in their lives. Being too full-on with the kids might also make your man regret his decision so play it cool.
Be open to the possibility of having an 'instant' family
You might not have planned to have kids so soon but when you date a man who has children, you have to be ready to be involved with more than just one person. He's a 'package deal' so accept all the terms and conditions before you say yes to him. There is the possibility that you could fall in love with his kids too – or that you might have to deal with some sort of resistance from them – and your life will be changed dramatically so welcome this scenario in your head first before you take it on in real life. Families are full of ups and downs so recognise this and be ready to deal with the consequences.