Sometimes loving a man is hard enough. Then you add two little ones and a whole load of ‘baggage‘ from a past life and things can get a bit rocky.
You’ve done it. You’ve found the ONE.
He is everything you’ve been looking for and more but there is one thing that you didn’t plan for – he has children from a past relationship.
I think it is fair to say without malice that although children are to be loved and cherished, what you don’t seek when looking for Mr Right is Mr Right plus 2 little ones.
Am I right?
However sometimes this is just the roll of the dice. Perhaps, for the man who finally treats you how you deserve, this is something you can accept.
With that said, here is my best relationship advice for loving a man who has children.
5 Top Tips for loving a man who has children
Below are my 5 top tips for loving a man who has children.
I have been, and am currently living through this exact situation and believe me when I say that there have been ups and downs!
No matter who you are, when you find yourself in a relationship you care about there is a natural sense of worry over whether it might succeed or not.
However, add some extra large obstacles like this to overcome and your mind can run rampant.
As an anxiety sufferer my overthinking mind is already quick to panic about the future and potentially sabotage a good thing.
So, it is good to acknowledge that despite the anxiety and despite the challenges we have faced; my partner and I are the best we have ever been.
Here are some pearls of wisdom I have from years of experience and heartache that I would love to spare you from experiencing (if that is at all possible when it comes to love?) when loving a man who has children.
1. Accept That They Are The Priority
It seems obvious, I know.
But I really need to stress this point to you because until you are knee deep in it it’s difficult to understand the irrationality of expecting a father to put you before his children.
Once children have been born into this world they are EVERYTHING.
I can say this even as a woman who has not had children because guess what, I know plenty who have!
They are number 1. Numero uno. And they should be.
There is a bond between parent and child unlike any other and with it comes responsibility, undisputed love and protection which is not something you OWE another human being.
Only for a child is the presence of unconditional love immediate and the obligation to keep them safe compulsory.
Recognize and accept this as soon as possible.
So, when I say that you must accept that they are the priority, I really do mean it.
Especially if you are with a man who does not have full access to his children.
It is in your best interest for you to recognize this early and be willing to take a step back, allowing him the room and space he needs to fulfill his parental needs.
No matter how much time he spends with you and no matter how much he loves this time, there will always be the strongest of wants to be somewhere else.
To be with his children.
The sooner you acknowledge and accept this then the easier it will be for you.
In this man’s life you may rank very highly, you might be one of THE MOST IMPORTANT people in his life…but you are not number one.
2. Don’t Take It Personally
I am embarrassed to say that I have to tell myself this on so many occasions. I have had to have friends tell me this AND my partner as well just to drive it home.
Listen to this, his feelings and actions towards his children are not intrinsically linked to his feelings and actions toward you.
Let that sit there for a moment.
There was a period of time at the beginning of our relationship where no matter how hard I tried to think logically about my partners choices, they still hurt.
What I mean to say is that we would have days where he might have been free to choose to spend the day with me or spend the day with his children – but he could not do both.
So I am of course talking about the days where he chose to be with his children.
You sit there thinking well, ‘he clearly doesn’t want to be with me‘.
‘This is only 1 day out of many where I would like him to put me first‘.
I reiterate point number one, you are not the priority when loving a man who has children.
Having now experienced many a moment like this and having had quite a few in depth discussions with my partner regarding this it became very clear that I was missing something.
How he feels for them is not intrinsically linked to how he feels for you.
No matter whether he chose to spend time with his children rather than me, he would still be there wishing I could be there too.
That’s the bit I missed!
It was explained to me quite bluntly that just as he yearns to see his children when he is with me and not them, the same is true when he is with them and not me.
This human that you love is a father and he might not be in a position where he can integrate you into that part of his life yet.
So, he will have many days where he will have to make tough decisions like this because he cannot have both.
You must realize that this is not personal.
The likelihood is that he wish it didn’t have to be this way.
Until you reach a point where there is more balance in the situation, understand that the decisions he makes regarding his children are not personal and do not reflect how he feels toward you.
They are top priority but that does not mean that you are not important as well.
3. Choose Your Level Of Involvement Wisely
Now, I don’t think I could write about my best relationship advice for loving a man who has children without acknowledging that more often than not what comes from a past relationship which resulted in little ones is also an ex-partner.
Oftentimes the biggest hurdle we face as newly mixed families is not dealing with having children in our lives but dealing with the baby Mumma.
I would hazzard a guess that if you’re reading this then you are in a situation similar and perhaps this so called ‘ex’ is not making life easy for you or him.
Understandably, it is instinctual to want to get involved; voice your opinion, take control and let it be known that you are here to stay.
However, I would suggest that you choose your level of involvement wisely.
Don’t take on his problems, simply be there to support.
What comes from having a toxic ex-partner in your life is added worry, added stress and a mass of frustration.
You can see that the man you love has a handful to deal with and you want to show your support but there are ways to do this which can alleviate his stress without adding to yours.
For example, allow him to talk about the issues he is experiencing.
Let him vent his frustration and keep you up to date with scheduling, interactions and any other issues he may be dealing with.
Be there to comfort him emotionally and physically.
By all means do these things to help alleviate his stress surrounding the situation but what I do not recommend is walking down a road of ‘sticking your nose in‘.
The results of this could well end up being a man who has two women on either side of him trying to control his actions.
You do not want to be this person.
You want to be his rock, his support.
Let him guide your involvement both with the children and his ex-partner. If he asks for advice, give it. If he vents a problem and you feel you can calmly express some positive solutions then go ahead.
For your sake and his, make sure your involvement is NECESSARY – this is his situation to manage and deal with. Alleviate his stress when you can and minimize your anxiety levels by maintaining a relative distance.
When loving a man who has children you are signing up for the attachment of a past life. So, follow his lead where the children and the ex are concerned.
4. Communicate And Be Heard
This tip seems to contradict what I have said previously but let me tell you why that is not the case.
Yes, you must accept that the children are his priority.
No, you must not take it personally when he does take actions which prioritize his children over you and yes you should 100% choose your involvement with any aspect of his past life WISELY…
All that being said, you MUST communicate your feelings throughout this relationship and make sure that you are being heard.
What I found up until recently was that although the communication within my relationship was actually very strong and positive, I found it extremely difficult to bring up any issues or worries which involved his children.
Oftentimes it had to be coaxed out of me and before I even allowed him to respond I would blurt out, ‘but I don’t want you to think that I don’t want you to see your kids!‘…Or something along that vein.
All of the previous points are worth noting and have been integral to me managing my anxiety throughout this relationship concerning his children (and ex).
However, you are a human being and you have feelings and limits just like the rest of us and these are not to be dismissed.
To be sure, implementing the first 3 tips will certainly help diminish a lot of fear and worry however sometimes, you just need reassurance and validation.
There will be many occasions where his actions can’t be excused by the first 2 points and they must be addressed if you want the relationship to succeed.
Here’s 2 examples for you:
1 – Not so long ago I found myself in a situation where I was quite unwell. On a day where I had to have a medical procedure to fix the problem, my partner left me to deal with this on my own to spend the day with his children. On any other day, this choice would have been one that I understood. Normally I wouldn’t have given it a second thought however on this particular day, I needed him.
I take full responsibility for this.
I did not express clearly at any moment during the week leading up to the procedure that I wanted him to stay. This is not to excuse his behavior.
I have explained clearly since then how I shouldn’t have needed to ask him to do this.
It should have been a given but regardless, bearing in mind that he is a MAN and he is a FATHER, it is better to give yourself the best chance of being understood by stating it very clearly so there is no confusion.
If I had done this and he STILL decided to leave that day, well then that’s another story.
2 – I am sure there are plenty of you who will know exactly what I am talking about here. I have been asked on multiple occasions, ‘I was going to go see the girls today but I am seeing them a lot next week so we could do something instead if you like?‘
And I have replied, ‘Oh no, no, no! You go and be with them as much as you can!‘ What I really wanted to say is, ‘Yes please, that would be lovely‘.
If he offers you his time freely then do not do what I used to do and pretend like you don’t mind either way. When the offer is there, take it!! If he wasn’t able/didn’t want to give you this time then he wouldn’t suggest it.
So with that in mind…
Be flexible, yes.
Try to be understanding, yes.
Be supportive, yes.
But do not let it go so far that you are left feeling like the relationship is one sided.
This man that you love has children and that is something that you have to accept and adapt to BUT; if he has actively decided that he is ready to jump in to a new relationship then he still has to put in the effort and make time for you.
And,if he can’t manage the two separate aspects of his life then he either needs to work towards combining them or step back until he feels he is ready.
Say what you want and need and do not be afraid to make requests for fear of seeming uncaring toward his situation.
You have signed up for loving a man in a relationship where a lot of factors are OUT OF YOUR CONTROL so the best way to stay on track is to COMMUNICATE calmly and fairly.
5. Appreciate That He Is A Good Dad
I’m going to keep this one short and sweet because I think it’s rather beautiful and does not require much explanation.
It is a really attractive quality in a man to be a good dad.
Not just any dad, a GOOD dad because there are many out there who are not (and if yours happens to be one of these men, then perhaps THAT is a conversation worth having).
To be a good dad you have to be caring, loving, protective, responsible, educational, proud and so on.
These are all such great qualities to have in a person!
The degree to which they resonate with the aspects above may vary but there are elements of each which suddenly pop up and take root as soon as their mini me is brought into the world.
Generally speaking, and this really does not apply to every male who has a son or daughter, good dad often equals good person.
The same qualities that he has to love for his children, he also can make available to you.
When you see the effort he is making to see them as often as he can, speak to them, take them places and the pain in his eyes when he is missing them then you should appreciate this and discard all feelings of jealousy or resentment or worry.
If these feelings were not present then I’d have questions.
Admire his good-dadness, appreciate that they are his priority but make sure your feelings are known.
My best relationship advice for loving a man who has children.
Dating someone with kids: Is it worth it? – HackSpirit
Navigating the Challenges of Step family Life – The Gottman Institute
7 Tips for Dating a Single Dad – The Date Mix