Is dating someone with kids a challenge?

Is dating someone with kids a challenge? – Lifestyles

Marti Yarbrough

You are an active participant of he dating game who has finally met that special someone. After your first date you find out that he or she has a child. You don’t. Does this new information change things, or is dating someone with kids a challenge?

According to Atlanta psychologist Dr. Tiy-E Muhammad, author of Secrets Men Keep, nowadays the possibility of dating a single parent is very likely.

“Over 60 percent of Black households are headed by a single parent with more than 50 percent of this staggering number being headed by Black women. There is a [high] possibility that the woman or man you meet will have at least one child,” says Muhammad. “The key is finding someone who is responsible for his or her child and doesn’t put an unwelcome burden on you.”

He adds that one of the major challenges of dating someone with kids is having to deal with the other parent.

“Sometimes just the mere presence of the other parent causes intimidation,” says Dr. Muhammad.

“Always ask if there is a successful relationship between the person whom you are dating and the other parent. If there is a good relationship between the two parents, that makes it easier for the person they are dating because there’s a good chance they won’t have to deal with a lot of negativity such as `baby mama’ or `baby daddy’ drama.”

The decision of whether or not to date a single parent is one that varies from person to person for many different reasons. For New York fitness trainer Gordon Dobbs, 30, dating a woman with kids is something he tries to avoid.

“It’s always been my dream to start a family of my own and not take in children from the outside,” says Dobbs. “That may sound a little selfish, but that’s just the way I feel.”

Dobbs reveals that if faced with the situation, he would, however, consider seriously dating a single mom but only if the child that she had was an infant. “That would be the ideal situation for me. If the kid is older like 10 or 12 years old, you may get a lot of resistance from that child. I don’t think I could deal with that.”

Having a single parent as a partner is something that Gena Banks, 35, a registered nurse from Las Vegas, would have never considered at one time. “I would prefer not to date someone with kids, but I’m becoming more open-minded,” she says. “The reality is that the older you get, the greater the chances are of having someone come into your life with children, and that just blocks out a whole range of possibilities when you discount someone because they have a child. Instead of judging a man who has children negatively, I could use the opportunity to look at how he’s treating his children. That tells a lot about what kind of person he is.”

Dating someone with kids is simply a matter of compatibility and acceptance, says Chicago Minister Damascus Harris, 35. “I weighed things out. You either like a person for who they are or you don’t, and you either accept the situation they have or you don’t.”

Harris, currently divorced, was married to a woman for over three years who had three children from a previous relationship. Now the tables have turned and Harris is the single parent in the dating game.

“I make sure that women understand that even though those are not biologically my kids, they are my children and I have a financial and emotional obligation to them. If they don’t like that, the door is over there, but so far it hasn’t proven to be a big issue.”

Lynzie Carter, 40, a Richmond, VA, realtor who married a single father five years ago, admits that she does not have a healthy relationship with her 15-year-old stepson and confesses to sometimes having regrets. Carter states that she wishes she had taken the matter of seeing a single parent more seriously when dating her then boyfriend.

“I knew he had a son, but I didn’t look at the big picture,” explains Carter. “We were just kicking it, but you never know how your feelings will grow. Really take your partner’s situation into consideration in the beginning, even if you don’t have any plans for a long-term relationship.”

Psychotherapist Julia A. Boyd of Washington theorizes that single women are more likely to resist dating men with children partly because they have put off childbirth to pursue education and careers.

“Let’s face it. If you’re an adult, you’ve had a life and some of those lives include children,” says Boyd, author of Embracing the Fire: Sisters Talk About Sex and Relationships. “The reality is that when you date someone who has children, you’re dating someone who has responsibility.

“When people say they don’t want to date someone with kids, I think what they are really saying is, `I don’t want baby mama drama,’ and that’s understandable. The drama happens when the [dating] parent is not clear about what their responsibilities are in their child’s life.”

Boyd suggests that single parents back on the dating scene, like Harris, be upfront with potential mates about the children they have. She adds that the parent should hold off allowing their date to meet the child until the relationship has taken a serious turn. Once this meeting has taken place, the parent should be adamant about remaining the primary disciplinarian in the child’s life.

“Good parents are flexible, patient and understanding of change,” stresses Boyd, “qualities considered to be assets in any healthy relationship. Having a child should not be looked at negatively nor should it hinder a parent from having fun or having a relationship.”

Dr. Muhammad states, “It shouldn’t matter if [the parent doing the dating] has one or a thousand kids. If your perspective mate tickles your fancy, you’ll jump at the opportunity to be with him or her.”

COPYRIGHT 2003 Johnson Publishing Co.

COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group