Top 10 Dating Tips for "Potential" Step-Moms.
I’m approached, quite often, by women who are interested in dating a man with children. They want my advice. Every relationship is different, but this is what I can share from my personal experience.
This post is dedicated to the woman dabbling in going in this direction.
It’s not always clear whether or not a person is ready to be in a committed relationship with kids already in the picture. This may be completely new territory, so I would say, approach dating man who has children, the same way you approach dating in general.
Do you like spending time with this new person in your life? How do they treat you? Do they make you smile? Do you want to see them again? Do they treat you better than anyone else you’ve ever been with? Do you feel comfortable in your own skin, with this person?
If you’ve answered yes to these questions, I’d say this is an amazing place to start!
(quote from a step-mom group, author unknown)
Once you’ve decided you want to proceed..here are some things to keep in mind:
At the beginning of dating, you might need to be extra flirty/send a few texts to let them know you’re thinking about them.
Many single fathers don’t really think women are up to becoming a step-mom so they don’t pursue anyone too quickly. (This is especially true of very hands-on parents)
If you want them to call you or text you more than they are - voice that need.
Being a single parent is HANDS-ON and tiring. When a single parent has a moment to rest, they might not think to pick up the phone and call or text. Let them know you understand, and also, that it’s important for you to know you’re on their mind.
Find out about the ex. If things get serious, you will most likely need to meet them (at some point). You don’t need to know everything about their marriage, but you do want to know a few things:
What is the communication is like between them now that they’re split?
This can be a blog post on its own - but it’s important to know that this woman will be a part of your relationship for as long as you share kids. (If there are huge “ex red flags” - this would be a good time to learn about them).
Look at a picture of his kids.
A couple of times when on a date with a single parent, I saw pictures of his kids and did not have the, “ohh they’re so cute and I can’t wait to meet them” feeling. When kids are supposed to be a part of your life, I really believe there will be a desire to get to want to meet them!
Ask about the relationship with the kids’ grandparents.
Discuss what partnership looks like for you. Is your partner looking for a new mom/babysitter for his kids or is he looking for a partner in life who will help him raise his kids?
In my experience, though I felt “selfish” saying this, I made it clear to my husband that I need to be a priority - that we need to be in this together. If he and I were not strong - we can’t be a strong team for the kids. For the kids to receive the best parenting - he and I need to be a united front.
I was not going to be “the” priority in my husband’s eyes when all of the kids were with us, but when they weren’t it was really important that we were communicating well and working on our own connection.
This was my biggest challenge in our first year, but we figured it out! It also helped me understand that even when we do have all the kids, it’s important to connect just the two of us, for a cup of coffee or a meeting in our room just to “check-in” and see what’s going on.
Once you’ve decided to move forward and want to meet the kids - watch him with his kids. Just watch. Make sure he is an “all in dad.”
Make sure he puts in all the effort with no excuses. If you feel a gut instinct from the beginning to step in or step over him to take care of the kids - know this is what your future will look like, and it might be more than you’re ready for.
Be patient. There is no need to rush into marriage. Get to know your potential future husband. Get to know the kids.
If you see red flags and know this isn’t for you - bow out.
Don’t let anyone discredit your feelings by saying “you signed up for this.”
When you have questions - reach out for help!
Do a self check-in. Be honest with yourself to see if you are in a healthy place.
When entering into a relationship with kids, there are more eyes on you and more people your actions will impact. I believe it is important to feel whole, before entering into an already existing family.
Becoming a step/bonus mom is a very selfless act. There is really no way to “know” what journey you are about to embark on. There is a lot of “backward learning,” in the sense that you did not raise your bonus kids from birth. It is probably one of the hardest jobs in life, but, know that there is an entire community of bonus moms out here, supporting each other and sharing advice. Don’t hesitate to reach out!
And, If you know there’s an area in your life that needs more attention, before you want to get involved in this relationship, please message me about coaching opportunities. Sometimes, a check-in to see which areas are out of balance can help put everything else into place.