10 Questions To Definitely Ask Before Dating Someone With Kids

by | Mar 3, 2023 | Relationships

Nothing catapults you into the thick of adulting quite like dating someone with kids. For starters, you have to make peace with not having access to bae around the clock, dates cancelled at the eleventh hour because the little one suddenly got sick — and an ex who may sometimes call in the middle of a romantic date. Plainly put, dating someone with kids requires you to be mature with a capital M. Because quite frankly, you can’t sulk over a situation that you walked into, or one that you can’t change!

If you’re considering building a life with this person, you’re going to want to ask and answer a few questions first.

According to licensed marriage and family therapist Rebecca Hendrix, a conversation about compatibility is a must. “Life is hard enough,” says Hendrix. “So being with somebody who also has the baggage of children who aren’t yours — in addition to an ex-relationship with some sort of conflict — you’re already going to have some potential challenges.” You want to mitigate those as much as possible, by making sure your needs and desires align, warns Hendrix.

Licensed psychologist “Dr Chloe” Carmichael completely agrees. She recommends sitting down with your guy (or woman) and literally going through a series of questions about each of your personalities, lifestyles, responsibilities and past relationships, all of which can be major factors in the success of your new relationship.

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So before you start coordinating school drop-offs and band rehearsals — pump the brakes and have a conversation with your budding S.O. Here’s exactly what to ask before dating someone with kids — or at least getting serious with them:

1. Is there room for a partner in his life?

Or is his plate already full? Most men with kids will see themselves as parents first — which is completely understandable, say Dr Chloe. But what’s important is for your partner to put you first when necessary. “As a woman dating a man with kids, you don’t always have to assume you’re going to come second fiddle to the kids,” says Dr Chloe. (Because real talk: You shouldn’t.)

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While the kids have to come first on many occasions — for example, if they have an accident at school — your partner shouldn’t use their obligation to their child(ren) as an excuse to put less effort into your relationship.

“It’s considered healthy to have boundaries around couple time and to be able to prioritise each other as primary partners,” advises Dr Chloe. If the person you’re dating can only make room for and prioritise their children, you might want to reconsider the relationship.

2. What are your responsibilities in this relationship?

Very NB! Find out if your partner has any expectations when it comes to your relationship with their children? Tension can arise when each of you has a different idea of what role you’ll play in the kids’ lives.

Dr Chloe says it’s important to make sure that your partner doesn’t expect you “to take responsibility for raising the kids, making rules or holding boundaries” unless it’s something you’ve both decided on. On the flip side, you also don’t want to overstep and get more involved in their kiddos’ lives than they want you to be (especially early on).

3. What kind of boundaries will they set?

Your partner should take charge on this one. “One of the pitfalls in dating a man with kids is when his children are disrespectful of you,” highlights Dr Chloe. If the kids are younger, this may not be such an issue (at least not yet). But if they’re a little older — and especially if they’re girls — they may feel a bit threatened by the appearance of another woman.

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They’re used to having dad all by themselves, explains Dr Chloe. So it’s important that your man knows how to set boundaries with his children, too. “You have to make sure that he is capable of setting a good and respectful tone, not just for you toward the kids, but the kids toward you,” she explains.

4. Is there any animosity between him and his ex?

Too often, people skip this conversation, because talking about exes tends to be on the no-go-area list when it comes to dating someone new. But as Hendrix says, “these aren’t first-date questions.”

Asking about former partners should come after you’ve decided this person is someone you want to invest in (or at least, think you do). Because before you make that investment, you have to know what you’re getting into.

“If they had an amicable divorce, similar to conscious uncoupling, then it’s probably not going to affect your relationship all that much,” says Hendrix. You may even find yourself becoming friends with your partner’s ex someday, especially if they’ve been separated for a long time.

However, Hendrix warns that if your partner has had a high-conflict divorce, it’s possible that their ex is going to somehow interfere in your dating. “It could be that they change the parenting plan at the last minute just to get back at your partner for moving on. It could be that they turn the kids against you, or make the children scared of the new person that their parent is dating,” warns Hendrix. It’s important to know if there’s a bad actor in the mix. (If there is, strap up because you’re in for one hell of a ride!)

5. What are your worries and fears?

This question requires some soul-searching. You’re going to have to get vulnerable and open up about the irrational fears you have concerning this relationship. “You may have a fear that’s not valid at all but if you don’t discuss it, it can build up and turn into anxiety,” warns Hendrix.

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The worst thing you could do is to create scenarios in your head that have zero validity. You could be worried that he’s going to bring the kids out on your movie dates, while he may have a personal rule that the kids can’t even meet you until six months of dating, Hendrix points out. Don’t invent problems that aren’t there. (This goes for everything in life, btw.)

6. What are your partner’s worries and fears?

Similarly, your partner could have some concerns of their own that they’re keeping to themselves in order to keep the relationship smooth sailing.

But that really doesn’t help anyone in the long run, so let them know that you prefer open communication style, where they won’t be chewed out for being upfront about their feelings. The more you can be honest with each other from the get-go, the better your chances of LTR success.

7. What are your — and their — expectations about how much time you’ll spend together?

“When somebody has children, most likely they’re either single parenting or in a joint parenting agreement with someone else, which means that a lot of their free time could be spent travelling to have weekend visits or Wednesday night dinners,” says Hendrix. So you need to have a conversation about the kind of relationship you want when it comes to quality time spent together.

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If you’re someone who envisions spending every night cuddled up with your boo, chances are, that’s not going to happen when there are kids in the picture. You’ll likely have to work around visitation schedules and their one-on-one time with their little ones.

In other words, if you’re dating someone with kids, know that you won’t have a “normal” relationship. And you have to be honest, with yourself and partner, about whether that’s something you truly want.

8. How often will you interact with their kids?

There’s no need to get yourself all worked up about the future of your relationship if you’re dating a man with a 20-something-year-old son. “You have to consider how far along these kids are in the ‘kid process’,” Hendrix says.

“If they’re 17 and going to college, kids might not matter. But if the kids are 5, 9 and/or 12, that’s a whole different story. It’s about knowing what you want and being able to say no to what you don’t want, to make room for what you do want.”

9. How well can you handle feelings of jealousy?

Scene: It’s Tuesday night and your man texts you that he will be late to dinner because he and his ex have some urgent issues to discuss with their daughter. How do you feel? A) Fine, I trust him. I get it. B) A sudden urge to flip a table and turn into one a Real Housewives character. If your answer is B, then you might want to rethink dating someone with kids.

“Likely, this person will have to maintain connections with their ex,” says Hendrix. So the time they’re not spending with you might often be “spent with somebody who was very important in their life at one point in time, who they obviously they loved in some way because they created children with this person.”

Jealousy can easily creep in. While that doesn’t mean you’re “crazy” (a little jealousy is normal and can even be healthy), it’s important to know if you’re “the jealous type.”

If you are, you’ll need to figure out whether you can really process those feelings and work through them on your own, because chances are — especially if you’re with a good guy or girl — that insecurity is really just about you, says Hendrix.

10. Do you even like kids?

Honestly, you may think your partner is near-perfect, but if you can’t see yourself going to a soccer match or being around as that toddler grows into a real person, dating a man with kids might not be for you.

“Those kids are going to be there for the foreseeable future,” says Hendrix. “You want to make sure that you like kids and that you can imagine spending time with them.”

If at the end of your conversation, you realise that you don’t want someone else’s kids in your future, that’s totally fine — consider it helpful, no crucial, intel.

This article was originally published on www.womenshealthmag.com

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