You Are Dating Someone With Kids. Can This Relationship Work?

There is a special place in heaven for people who accept that love is a “package deal”. While every relationship requires some compromises and sacrifices, dating someone with kids (a.k.a. “the package”) really puts those values to the test.

Are you up for the challenge?

Casey Bradfield is up for the challenge. The 25 year-old Toronto business and personal development coach has been dating an older man with children for the past six months. She doesn’t have children of her own, and dating someone with kids is a new experience. Rather than being daunted by the prospect of life with kids, she is excited about making this relationship work. How does she do it?

Be open to new experiences

Before meeting her partner, Casey was not very interested in family-oriented activities such as street festivals or drive-ins. However, she knows the importance of being an active (and enthusiastic!) participant and says, “I’m open-minded and like to try new things.” She has discovered that children like to do the same type of activity over and over. “There may come a point where I will be bored to tears,” she laughs “but I haven’t reached that point yet.”

Be more than a friend, but not a parent

Casey wants to play an important role in the lives of her partner’s kids but not the role of a parent. She says, “If I was with someone who felt I had to be their mother, I couldn’t handle that.” She says that the children already have two involved parents (her partner and his ex wife), and expects them to take the lead in the discipline department. While she wants to be more than a friend, she doesn’t want to be the one to tell them what they can and cannot do.

Embrace the whole experience

Dating someone with kids can have some downsides—less time as a couple (e.g., carpooling kids to activities is time-consuming); possibly limited finances (e.g., child support payments); and, perhaps complicated dynamics (e.g., the presence of an ex-spouse). Casey says, “Having a bigger family that is loving and caring comes with good and bad.” She recognizes that goodwill is needed on everyone’s part to make it work.

Sacrifice alone time

Children need a lot of time and attention, and there is only so much of that to go around. Casey has had to sacrifice one-on-one time with her partner to spend time as a family. While she understands the demands of parenting, she also reminds her partner about devoting time to their relationships or “there won’t be a relationship there.” She says carving out time every week as a couple is a work-in-progress but one that they are committed to making happen on a consistent basis.

Like Kids!

While this may seem obvious, not everyone is a kid-person. Kids can be a handful (e.g., have the energy to run around like Olympic sprinters); immature (e.g., throw tantrums when asked to eat broccoli) and need structure (i.e., forget about sleeping till noon if soccer practice is at 8 a.m.). Casey accepts that kids are kids and tries not to let “stuff that’s really annoying me to show” like when they ask to go to the bathroom every five minutes at the drive-in! She says, “I let it roll off of me.”

Starting any relationship is a big commitment but an even bigger commitment when there are kids involved. Are you up for the challenge?