In 2012, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that there were 1.96 million single fathers in America. Of those men, 44 percent were divorced dads and one out of every six had primary custody. If your potential partner is one of these divorced custodial dads, you'll need to contend with issues that go above and beyond the typical dating scenarios, such as his family's dynamics, scheduling conflicts and his children's feelings about you.
1. To Meet Or Not To Meet
Although eventually, if things get serious, you may become one blended family, during the initial dating period you aren't yet at the stepmom stage. A divorced parent doesn't need to and often shouldn't introduce his children to every date or casual relationship, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics' website. Children need stability, not to see a revolving door of women walking in and out of their dad's life. Don't stress if your guy doesn't say anything about you meeting his kids or even if he outright refuses. It's possible that he's waiting to see if your relationship progresses before he prepares for a first meeting.
2. Suitable Schedules
As the primary caregiver, this divorced dad is responsible for taking care of his children on a full-time basis and may not have a flexible schedule to accommodate your dating needs. A single full-time dad has parenting duties such as soccer practice, PTA meetings, parent-teacher conferences and sleepover parties to attend to before he can spend time with you. He may want to spend some of the free time he does have with his kids, just playing or catching a flick together. Keep a positive attitude when it comes to your guy's family duties. If a dad doesn't spend enough time with his children, they may begin to feel neglected or believe they aren't important to him, according to the national Fatherhood Initiative. Don't expect him to drop everything for a romantic night out with you or to be able to take off on a weekend trip out of town.
3. Money Matters
Before his divorce, your single-dad boyfriend may have had his ex's income to boost the family's financial state or may not have had the same expenses that he does now. Having to re-evaluate spending due to a divorce is a common part of becoming a single parent, according to HealthyChildren.org. Although some single dads may have plenty to spend on a new girlfriend, don't assume that your guy will trade saving for his kid's college education to buy you the pricey piece of jewelry you've had your eye on. If you know he has a bounty of financial burdens on his shoulders, offer to pay half during your evenings out or think of creatively inexpensive activities to try, such as a picnic in the park instead of dinner at a fancy restaurant.
4. Family Circus
A divorced full-time dad's children may not welcome you with open arms after you do meet. They may see you as an obstacle to their mom and dad getting back together, or they may feel jealous at the attention their father is giving to you. Living full-time with dad may also mean that his kids feel territorial about their home, according to the pediatric professionals at the KidsHealth website. Don't rush your relationship with the children and understand that it may take time for them to warm up to you. Likewise, it may take time for you to get to know and care about your guy's children. Just because hey are his kids, doesn't mean that you will love them immediately. As time goes on, you'll get to know each other, appreciate each other and develop a true relationship.
- U.S. Census Bureau: Profile America Facts for Features
- HealthyChildren.org: Dating After Divorce
- HealthyChildren.org: Stresses of Single Parenting
- KidsHealth: How Can I Help My Child Deal With My Dating After Divorce?
- National Fatherhood Initiative: 10 Ways to Be a Better Dad
- U.S. Census Bureau: Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support: 2009
- Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images