Dating Someone With Kids? Here Are 5 Ways Invest in a Child’s Life
Dating someone with kid (especially when you don’t have any of your own!) is a big commitment. After all, children aren’t an accessory; they’re a priority and a pivotal part in the life of your partner.
If you’re not ready to commit to two people, then you’re not ready to date a single parent. Dating a man or woman with kids means getting to know them and their children. It’s a package deal.
However, if you are ready to invest in the life of your partner and their child, it’s an amazing experience.
There’s a lot to be said for the when and how of being introduced to the children of the man or woman you’re dating. But if you’re investing in a long-term relationship with someone, it’s important that you play a role in their child’s life. Dating a single mother or a single father can prove to be an incredible relationship.
I recently started dating a man with a five year old daughter. As he and I have gotten more serious, my relationship with his daughter has gotten more serious, too.
I don’t have any children, but I’ve learned a lot from dating someone with kids. If you’re dating a man or woman with kids, I’m going to share how I try to make his daughter feel special and important to me as an individual. For the sake of privacy here, I’ll call her C.
These are my 5 favorite ways to spend quality time with C—authentic time that grows a good relationship between the two of us, and the three of us.
For us, playtime is always the priority. The time I get with C is limited, since I work during the day and her parents have joint custody. I wanted to be intentional with the time I spend with C and her dad, so we make it a priority to focus on her.
There’s other time in relationship that we set aside for just the two of us as a couple. We don’t spend any C-time working on future planning, texting, on the phone, or catching up on our days. Instead, we play with her, and we play with our whole hearts.
From board games to playing tag at the park to intricate dollhouse story-lines, I position myself as someone she can have fun with. I meet her where she’s at—even if that means I pretend to be a unicorn fairy princess for the first time in twenty five years.
Eating dinner together is really important on the nights we’re able. We prep a kid-friendly meal, we pray before we eat, and we talk about our day or share funny stories.
I see this as an opportunity to introduce a structure and routine that involves me in it. Our schedule includes some of the important pieces of life, like cooking, eating, praying, and cleaning up.
Since I’m not her mother, it’s a fine line to not parent or discipline her. But by prepping meals and sharing that structured time listening, I can still show that I’m more than a playmate, but an adult she can trust. If you’re looking for an idea about how to be involved in the family of the man or woman you’re dating, this is a great place to start.
One of our favorite ways to spend time together is with crafting projects. Lately we’ve been making a lot of slime (here’s the recipe we use). This project includes both our hands and our minds, because it usually becomes a pretend cooking show.
We color pictures, make cookies, go on walks with a mission and a line leader—anything that gives us a goal to accomplish as a team. If you’re dating a parent, fun projects are a great way to get to know your boyfriend or girlfriend as well as their child.
Since C is a child of joint custody, there’s a lot of time spent in the car between places. For my boyfriend and I, we like to use that time as a bonus opportunity, so we take turns sitting in the backseat with her.
From there, we can talk, do sticker books or play pretend, or sometimes watch videos of other people making slime (seriously, the kid loves slime). One of us sitting with her makes her feel important, special, and looped into the conversation.
I don’t get a lot of one-on-one time with C, but I try to make sure she understands that I have relationship with her that’s independent of the one I have with her dad. That means talking to her directly, instead of asking him questions about her, and being patient in meeting her where she’s at.
I’m blessed that we get along very well. But there are moments when she’s adamantly opposed to talking to or snuggling anyone but her dad, or when she draws comparisons between me and the other adults in her life. When that happens, I just listen to what she has to say and don’t offer any opinions.
Being present and a good listener is the best kind of advocate you can be for the child of the person you’re dating.
It establishes that you’re not a parent and not trying to take a parent’s place, but you’re showing that you are an adult that they can trust, respect, and even grow to love by taking an interest in them as who they are—not just as the child of your significant other.
Erin is a Catholic writer living on the windy plains of Kansas. She loves reading, dark chocolate, sunflowers, and learning to cook.