A Relationship With A View
When you are dating someone who has children....
This time around, I wanted to mix my writing up and share a little bit about my personal life along with the insights of hundreds of families that I have talked to over the last few years while working at Midcourse.
When I was growing up, I was your prototypical “girl” who dreamed about her prince charming sweeping her off her feet on a white horse, and dreamed dreams of what my future spouse would look like, do for a living, where we would live, how many children we would have, and my favorite, what my wedding dress would look like. I was a total princess trying to fit my princess world into real life and as we all know my crown wasn’t fitting no matter which way I turned it…
Fast forward to my life now and without boring you to tears the very short version is that I am now a product of two failed engagements and my prince charming riding up on a white horse is so far from reality that at times I wish I never even knew what fairytales were all about. Life is messy and so are relationships.
Relationships are meant to be easy and beautiful. That’s how God intended them to be. Clearly life isn’t perfect, but in those not-so-perfect times that’s when our relationships with others deepen and become the most important because we lean on each other and fight the battle together. So let’s go back to the whole relationship thing… When you get into a relationship with someone who already has children by someone else, you aren’t just dating that person you are dating their children also. If I am being honest with you, if I knew how hard it would be to date someone with children, I would have never agreed to go out on a date with them. Dating someone with children means that you won’t always be put first, especially if the children are younger. It may even mean a date gets cut short or not happen at all after weeks of planning because a babysitter canceled, got sick, or just changed their mind. Its shortened phone calls, TONS of patience, unwavering forgiveness, the possibility of unkind words being said to you from the other parent, and the list goes on.
In the earlier part of my relationship with my significant other, I honestly thought it wouldn’t last a year. It was annoyance after annoyance because one child took up so much of their single parent’s time and energy. I spent many days rolling my eyes and wanting to scream. My patience was always being tested and multiple times I thought to myself “This is not worth it. I deserve so much better.” However, I loved the person fiercely and I wanted to make it work. I’m sure we’ve all been there, and if you haven’t I envy you. I truly wanted the fairytale life that everyone else had, and dating someone who had children was not it.
Switching gears a little, I can’t tell you how many times I have listened to significant others crying on the phone because they are dating someone who has children by other people and their children are causing so much chaos they would say things like: “I didn’t sign up for this,” “I can’t take this anymore,” and the most used “They aren’t my bio son or daughter so I technically don’t have to love them. I chose to love them and I’m tired of being spit in the face,” or something very similar to that. (I talk to a TON of people with similar stories. These people, men and women, are in pain and they are hurting.) If you have ever felt lost and you aren’t sure where to turn, then you have just seen a glimpse of my everyday conversations with families all over the Country.
Moral of this short story is that dating someone who has children is hard, and it takes unconditional love, patience, kindness, and forgiveness. If you are committed to the relationship and the person, then you are in it through thick and thin, good and bad, children or no children. It was a life I would have never wished for myself or even wanted for myself, but that saying of: “if you want to make God laugh tell Him your plans” definitely fits my life to a “T.”
I decided to compile a list of a few ideas I learned myself and ideas that others have told me about what they have done in their times of hardships.
*If your significant other cancels on you because they lost their babysitter, for as annoying as it is ask them if they would like some company. If they say yes, go over there with a positive attitude, smile on your face, and cook dinner together as a family, then watch a fun movie, play games with everyone, go for a walk, etc. You may just end up having the best evening, and being a shining light that your person’s children need in their life.
*If you get canceled on because your significant other’s child(ren) gets sick and you can’t go over, chalk it up to a free night to hang with the girls, go shopping, see a movie, etc. dating yourself is one of the best therapeutic things you can do for your well-being. Trust me, I’ve been single for so long I’m a pro! Ha-Ha. The more you love yourself, the more fiercely you can love others.
*Get involved in your significant other children’s hobbies. Even if it is the most annoying, and boring activity. Do it, and do it with a smile on your face. Taking interest in them and their likes will help your relationship greatly down the road, especially if you marry that person or the other parent to that child is less than stellar.
*If the relationship is serious and marriage is on the table, make sure you are living a life that you would want others to imitate, because remember, you will be marrying the kids too. I can honestly say that when I was dating someone with children I’m pretty sure 100% of everything their children said, wore, did, listened to, etc made me cringe, and I disagreed with.. Love them more and love them through it. God calls us to that type of love. Living your life in love for God will only make others want that kind of life too.
*Remember you are NOT their parent, so when things are going awol with your significant other’s children don’t talk to them about what they should do, Instead, offer suggestions and support on anything you can assist with. That makes a huge difference, and will help everyone across the board.
*If the relationship is something you both want, then fight for each other. Set boundaries, pray together, and make sure that no matter what, at least one date a month is set aside for just the two of you. Parents need breaks too!
*I've personally learned that if you include your significant other's children in what you are doing it greatly helps your relationship to grow. For example, include them in on gift ideas for birthday, Christmas, mother's/father's day, or any other special occasion. Also, include them on fun outings you are planning together. The more you include them into your life, the deeper your relationship will become.
I would love to hear and share what has worked for you if you have been or are in the same boat as so many others. Remember to lead with grace and kindness and don’t forget to give grace, kindness and forgiveness to yourself and the one you chose to love... Life is hard and sometimes messy but life is fleeting and beautiful. We only have one chance, and one life to live. Make it the best life possible!