About a year and a half ago I dated a girl with a four year old son. It was my first foray in to fatherhood, a big eye opener, and a great learning experience. Turns out I’m not such a bad Dad, but I found this article over at Alone & Whatnot that I thought could help the men out there looking to dive head first in to a ready-made family.
In online dating, one of the most common choices to ponder is whether or not you want to date a single parent. While the single parent playing field is probably 60/40 women to men, there’s just no avoiding the fact that single parents are commonplace in online dating. When considering them as a potential date, several factors come into play. Some factors are ground rules issued by them. Other factors come into view when we think about how we fit into the equation.
I am currently dating a single mother. I would not have expected to be where I am right now given my perspective on children just two years ago. I have been dating her for better than six months now, so I feel I can write something worth reading without evoking too much parental wrath.
Many single mothers spell it all out in their profiles. The kids come first. They are priority #1. I agree. It’s a package deal. If you don’t like kids, you shouldn’t bother. They don’t expect you to be a father, but it is nice if a guy could be a good role model.
Sound familiar? It should. These phrases are typical of a single mother’s online dating profile. They are not unique at all.
I met her son soon after we started going on dates. It was unavoidable. We broke one of my rules about dating single mothers in the process. It is unwise to introduce a new date to the kid too soon in the courting process. If at all possible, delay the interaction so as to avoid causing undue stress upon a child that may not fully understand who this new guy is.
But like I said, it was unavoidable. This reveals the second truth of dating a single mother. They don’t have a lot of time and what time they do have is spent being a mom. This aspect of dating a single mother is a major source of stress and the fact that the woman I am dating lives an hour and fifteen minutes away makes any time constraints a bothersome issue.
Luckily, we are doing well in this department. No major hurdles have been introduced due to time or distance. We don’t like that sometimes, we can’t be around each other because she works evenings, but we dedicate Friday, Saturday, or Sunday to alternating “us time.”
And then you have the pride and joy aspect of single mother-dom. Yes, their kid is an angel. To the rest of us, however, they aren’t as pristine, nor are they all that delicate. They hit. They yell. They resist. They don’t do what they’re told. They aren’t very good communicators. This, you must endure. That said, if you’re a single mother, please don’t portray your child as an angel.
This leads to a major problem with dating a single mother. You must not become a source of discipline. She is the one who disciplines her child, not you. It is a mistake to introduce yourself as a disciplinary figure too early. That’s not my opinion talking. This is expert advice I’m giving you from those more knowledgeable than myself in these matters. Not only can you undermine her authority, but you risk creating more tension than is necessary. Not only do you stress the child, but you stress the relationship.
That said, I have made this mistake and she appreciates my involvement in her son’s life at this stage. I don’t fully understand what it takes to handle a four year old, but I want to help her as much as I can, if I can.
The thing about four year olds is, they do what they want. This one is a picky eater. He is easily entertained and is learning how to spell and talk, albeit slower than I had expected him to be in terms of development. He still only eats chicken nuggets, grilled cheese, cereal bars, bananas, apple slices, orange slices, yogurt, oatmeal, and of course, candy. To get him to deviate from what is familiar is to ask the world of him. He will deny you the pleasure of introducing a new food items into his diet.
We have fun. We play outside. We play inside. I’ve done the babysitting one evening. He associates the night sky with my name, among other things. He gives me hugs. He is winning me over and I think I’m making an impression on him. Years ago, I would’ve told you little bastard children were not for me. I wanted a vasectomy, in fact. My two exes were not thrilled about the notion of being parents either, so dating them seemed to make sense. Now I seem to be accepting the fact that it is a biological inevitability and to have the woman I want in my life, I need to go ahead and let my guard down. Kids are kids.
But there is one more caveat I must mention. I am not his father. He already has one of those. Although there is a clear line drawn between his mother and father, his father does see the boy about once a week. Granted, this gives the relationship our much desired alone time without the burden of an 8am wakeup pounce by a four year old in “accident” diapers. His father is not the best of guys, from what I’ve heard, but it seems like he does care for the kid. I can’t compete with that, and so I did my reading. It is possible that a child confuses who he should love and he will feel as though if he loves me, he cannot love his father. I cannot come between them, but given my future, it is a done deal that, should this relationship progress, I will put some major miles between him and his father. I have always known this was a possibility and this is why I chose not to date single mothers. I can only wait and see how this will turn out.
So there is some food for thought. If you are about to be in the same boat, you have a lot to consider before diving in. I have years of medical training behind me, including Pediatrics. You may not have the same kind of flexibility and personal awareness I possess, and so you might not want to follow my example. I feel more capable than most childless men in this situation. Certain things have prepared me for the obstacles I’ve encountered thus far. You have to be honest with yourself. If you can’t do that, you can’t give either one of them what they need.
(Photo courtesy of http://www.streethypenewspaper.com/our-children-need-a-family/)