Let’s face it, dating a man with a kid or kids is not an easy thing to take on. Everyone’s story is different. Whether he has a very healthy co-parenting schedule with the mother of his child(ren) or he has a toxic one. Unfortunately, my story deals with a toxic relationship between my now husband and the Mother of their child. But, I hope that it can help others navigate their relationships in dating a man with kids and hopefully make the right decision for you.
For starters, my husband is truly the most amazing man I have ever met and the sweetest, most caring person. Because of this, I could NEVER understand how his relationship went south and became so nasty. Then, I learned that it wasn’t him. Sadly, he was a victim of domestic violence and emotional abuse. Can I just mention how domestic violence against males is so under reported and not taken seriously? But, that’s a topic for another day!
Anyway, so when I started hanging out with him and found out his background with his ex, I had my reservations. However, he’s such a wonderful person that I couldn’t help it. Now, let’s just say that the beginning days were very trying and not because of him. He was super supportive of me even when he needed it most. It was the Mother of his child. Here is what I’ve learned from dating a man with not only a kid but a very mentally damaged ex.
DON’T FEED INTO DRAMA
When I first started dating my now husband Justin, I was 23 (now 29). His relationship with the Mother of his child had been over for more than a year. However, she couldn’t seem to let go of him especially with his constant presence in the child’s life and hers. She had been stalking him, his family, and once she caught wind that we were dating, it heightened. She found out where I worked, she called my job, harassed my family, my friends, and spread nasty rumors online about me.
My biggest mistake was that I didn’t just let her. Instead I felt the need to defend myself and I played right into her trap. Unfortunately, it didn’t stop her and it got to the point where Justin and I both had to file for restraining orders. If I could go back, I would have let her have her very long moment and not even engage.
FOCUS ON YOUR RELATIONSHIP
Your relationship with your boyfriend and his child should be your main focus. Sure, it would be nice if you could communicate openly with the Mother of his child, but in my case that was never an option. It didn’t matter to her if it would create a healthier environment for the child, it was more so about her needs and not letting Justin move on. So, if you don’t have that opportunity to have a healthy relationship with the Mother, just worry about your relationship being the best gf and future stepmother that you could be.
THE CHILD ALWAYS COMES FIRST
This is a no-brainer and if you’re dating a man with kids you have to understand this. There would be times that we would be out on a date and his ex would randomly drop their kid at his family’s house just to be spiteful so he would need to leave to go get him. Since I wasn’t ready to meet his son yet, I completely understood that he had to go, no questions asked. Having the patience and recognizing that you won’t always be first, is super important.
LET HIM HANDLE ALL CHILD RELATED MATTERS
At the time, Justin was still learning how to navigate co-parenting so he would often ask me for advice. I would sometimes offer my suggestions on different options that he has to make it work but getting involved isn’t something I was ready for. Sure, as much as I wanted to grab his phone and give a piece of my mind when she was threatening him and myself for absolutely no reason at all, I never did. He always handled all interactions with her and it must stay that way.
BE PATIENT IN MEETING THE CHILD
Don’t rush meeting the child. I was never in any hurry because there was so much tension. Also because I come from a huge family with 5 nephews so I understand how precious and fragile children are. I did not want to come into his life if I wasn’t here to stay and you can never tell so early on in a relationship so I took my time. When I finally felt ready, then I decided to meet him.
YOU’RE NOT THEIR MOTHER
Remember, you are not their Mother, nor are you trying to be or replace her. This is something that you’ll never win at so don’t even try. Your job is to make them feel comfortable and nurtured knowing that it’s okay to bond with you. You’re just an additional person in their life who loves them.
I hope that your experience dating a man with a kid or kids is A LOT smoother than mine has been. But don’t forget that it could lead to something so beautiful. Here we are, 6 years later and married with a bright future ahead of us. This would never have been possible if I didn’t open up and accept him, his son, and the responsibilities that come with it. Plus, I must say, going through those very difficult times truly put our relationship to the test and made us stronger than we ever could have been.