As of 2012, there were 1.96 million single dads in the U.S., according to the U.S. Census Bureau. If your new romantic interest is one of these fathers, understanding how to start a relationship with a man who has children is a must. Whether you have your own children from a prior relationship or have none, taking your new beau's kid duties into consideration is an essential piece of the partnership puzzle.
1. The Mom Factor
While you might not want to think about your new man's ex, as the mother of his children, she will likely always be in the picture. Unless your boyfriend has an ex who shares no custody of the kids, he must maintain some sort of relationship with her for the sake of their children. Although you might not enjoy seeing your man talk to his ex, when children of divorce have the support of both parents, they experience less stress, according to the National Fatherhood Initiative website. When you start a relationship with a single father, it's essential that you take this factor into consideration and develop an understanding or empathetic view of his need to communicate with or see his ex.
2. So-So Schedule
Unlike starting a relationship with a single, childless man, dating a divorced dad means working around his parenting obligations. When children experience a major life change -- such as the separation of their parents -- keeping up with a daily schedule or routine is a crucial part of creating a sense of comfort and predictability for them, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics' HealthyChildren.org website. This may mean that you can't expect your new beau to meet you after work for drinks, have spontaneous nights out or take impromptu weekend trips. You will need to understand that his children's schedules come first, and that you will need to plan around their schedules or even forgo seeing him on occasion. If you have your own children, you will also have to factor their schedules into consideration, planning dates that don't interfere with either family's routines.
3. Children in the Mix
Although it's unlikely that your new boyfriend will want you to meet his children right off the bat, when you start a serious relationship with a single dad, you will have to take this first introduction into consideration. Before you jump into the first meeting with an idyllic vision of his kids gleefully skipping into your arms, keep in mind that it isn't easy for the kids to see their dad with someone who isn't their mother. Children may view a parent's new romantic partner as a threat to their own fantasy of mom and dad reuniting. While not every child will react to their father's new girlfriend in a negative way, expect some anxiety or stress during this often-tense time. Relax and give yourself, your beau and his children time to adjust.
4. Dating and Romance
The beginning of a relationship is an exciting time when the initial attraction to a new partner may make it a challenge to keep your hands off of each other. That said, dating a single dad may mean that you need a hands-off policy when the children are around. Seeing you hold dad's hand, hug him or kiss him may make his kids uncomfortable or jealous that he is showing you physical attention. While you might want to get lovey-dovey when starting a relationship with a divorced dad, making romance a private affair is essential.
- United States Census Bureau: Profile America Facts for Features, How Many Fathers?
- National Fatherhood Initiative, For Fathers Resources for Fathering: Coping With Co-Parenting: How Fathers and Mothers Can Work Together
- HealthyChildren.org: Stresses of Single Parenting
- HealthyChildren.org: Dating After Divorce
- KidsHealth: Tips for Divorcing Parents
- E. Dygas/Photodisc/Getty Images