While dating is exhilarating, a woman dating a father needs to remember that his first priority is his child. Because adult relationships often take a back seat when children are involved, dating a father requires patience and understanding. It also means taking the relationship as slow as necessary to make sure everyone involved is comfortable.
1. Be Discreet
It is normal for two people who like each other to want to jump into a relationship. When the relationship involves a man with a child, though, discretion is important. A child has adjust not only to the parents being apart but also to the father dating again. The Healthy Children article “Dating After Divorce” recommends that any romantic behavior within a couple should remain between the partners. A child should not witness intimate behaviors such as kissing, hand holding or caressing until the child is not only aware of the relationship but okay with it as well. That can take time and adjustment, but it is worth the wait if this relationship is important.
2. Patience Is Primary
When adjusting to a father dating again, a child may have some security issues at first. In the article "Dating After Divorce: What It Means For Kids,” Katy Abel says a child may feel a new paramour is going to take the father away. When there is a sense of security about the father's prioritization of the child and the time the two will continue having together, the adjustment can go more smoothly. When dating a father, you should have patience while he guides his child through this life-changing time. There may be times when a date has to be cancelled or plans changed because of the child. In the wake of such cancellations, remember that this is what parenting is about -- protecting the health and welfare of the child.
3. Wicked Stepmother Syndrome
Most stepmothers are nothing like those in the fairy tales. To a child, Dad dating signifies the end of the dream that he and Mom will get back together. According to the article “Dating After Divorce,” published on the website Divorce Help for Parents, a child may hate the father's new love interest simply because she is not the child's mother. The article recommends the child get to know the new woman in her father’s life over time. After spending time with Dad's new girlfriend and getting to know her, the child may come to love the potential stepmother.
4. Discuss Parenting Issues
One great thing about dating a father is being able to see his parenting style firsthand. It is inevitable that he will have issues with his child at some point, and it is important that he feels supported. The article “Advice on Dating Someone with Children,” published on the website Health Made Easy, recommends being a support system for the parent. His child is his first priority and obligation, and dating comes when it can. The article recommends being available to the parent when he needs to discuss parenting issues in order to build a strong relationship. This will also allow you to see how he would handle any future children of yours should the relationship progress to that level.
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