What To Expect When Dating Someone With Kids

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Our dating expert, Dr Pam Spurr (​on twitter @drpamspurr and at ) tells us what we need to know when dating single parents.

Let’s get real, dating’s complicated enough but factor in kids and it's daunting. Here are some top tips if you're in a new relationship where children are involved:

Their children are important to them

You can’t cherry pick – have a relationship with them, ignore their kids. Their kids will always be their priority. Walk away if you can’t accept this!

Communication is key

Instead of sweeping things under the carpet, get to know how they manage juggling being a single parent. Listen carefully so you fully understand the ins-and-outs of their life. 

Accept the status quo 

They have worked out with their previous partner the access and visits probably with much wrangling. Don’t storm in and expect that they can change these plans on a whim. When they have the kids, they HAVE the kids.

Be mindful of jealous feelings

Jealous feelings are almost universal at some level. Their children are living proof, they had a serious relationship before you came along. Accept that you might feel a little jealousy but you need to cool it off. Put things into context – you’ve had past loves and so have they. With their children, you're the adult so challenge any jealousy that rears its head over them.

Their feelings for you can get complicated

Remember that while your relationship may be an exciting beginning for you and your new partner, for the kids it’s an ending - of the hope their parents get back together. They have a right to feel unhappy at this loss. If you can accept their feelings are understandable, things will be easier for you. 

A checklist of top tips if you want this relationship to last the distance - 

Take dating slowly - Don't plunge into this situation. And don't expect to see them frequently at first. Certainly, don't expect to spend the night with them straightaway.

*Meet the children – Undoubtedly, they’ll guide you when this happens but it's savvy of you to suggest keeping it low-key. Don't expect, e.g., to spend a whole Saturday when you first meet. Suggest meeting somewhere casual for an ice cream.

*Be confident – Combat feelings that it’s going to be tough by expecting the best to happen for all of us. Keeping positive and confident definitely helps when you all feel unsure of things.

Respect their past - They have their ways of doing things. Instead of sweeping in and trying to create everything from scratch, respect the things they enjoy doing. Show you're coming along for the ride - you're not trying to be the driver! 

If you also have children – 

*Protective parents - It's natural for you both to be protective of your children. If there are rows between your children it's hard to resist defending your child’s side. Resist! Early on you two should form ‘Team Adults’ presenting an excellent example of not taking sides.

*Parental love doesn't happen overnight - You love your child/children, they loves theirs - but loving each other's takes time. Think of how a friendship grows - that's what you can expect from your feelings for your stepchildren-to-be.

*Regular relationship MOT - This might seem like a challenge too far but it can work wonders for everyone to sit around the dinner table and check how they're all feeling. If you encourage a supportive atmosphere, it can have enormous benefits.

The family that plays together - It helps you to bond by finding a new activity to do together. From swimming to cycling, or whatever you all enjoy, start forming your own traditions.

Check Pam’s ​podcast: 

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