Guest Writer #104: “DATING…with Children”

I remember when I started noticing the people around me start to have kids, far too early for my taste. I was a younger woman then, still an undergraduate in college. At that time, I made it clear that I wasn’t interested in dating a man with children. I didn’t have children of my own, and for good reason-I wasn’t ready to HAVE any. I had enough trouble being responsible for myself. Keeping up with school, work, chasing the wrong man, family obligations, student leadership, and still having a little time to breathe myself left me no time to worry about the needs of a child-never mind the fact that I wasn’t married. No husband, no kids. I knew that if I were to date a man with a child, it would be hard for us to find time for each other with my already busy schedule and whatever schedule he’d have to keep with his child.

When I turned around 27, I started to realize that I was too old to expect to find a man who didn’t already have children. It was time to make some concessions. My biggest worry was marrying a man with big kids who hated me. I decided then that if I dated a man with children, they should be SMALL children. Children too young to say, “You ain’t my mama!” It just dawned on me this morning that a man with a child that small would be fresh out of a relationship and would still likely have “Baby Mama Drama.” It’s a heavy thing having a child for someone, so I imagine a lot of feelings would still be involved, and sometimes it’s just not pretty…

At 30, I started seeing a man with children. We never called ourselves dating, but a few months in, it was clear to me and everyone around us that that’s exactly what we were doing. He was approximately 5 years divorced and had two kids. BIG kids. Kids big enough to say, “You ain’t my mama” and a lot more. His youngest daughter was ten years old and the nastiest, most disrespectful child I never met. You read that right. I never met the child and she always had something loud and rude to say whenever he and I were on the phone.

I can’t blame it on the child, though. He had set up a very confusing relationship with her where one minute they were best friends and ribbing on each other and the next, he was a stern father punishing her. Well, one thing he didn’t punish her for much was the way she spoke of me.. He actually invoked my name in conversations with her to tease her. “I WAS gon’ ask DIMONIQUE to pick you up from school. DIMONIQUE doesn’t think you should act this way… DIMONIQUE thinks you should pick the pink dress.” Well you can imagine what this brat would say. “I don’t care what she thinks! I wasn’t getting in a car with HER!” Mind you-I haven’t met the child, nor do I have plans to meet her, but he keeps bringing me up to her, and she keeps slamming me. I asked him to stop throwing me in her face so that she wouldn’t get all riled up and say nasty things because it was unnecessary. He quipped, “You should hear how she talks about my other friends.” I told him I didn’t give a…well, you know…how she talked about his other friends.

Another problem he had with his daughter was that he always tried to diminish her mother not just in front of her, but TO her. I remember a time when he was taking the girls shopping and he was on the phone with me. Young daughter asked him could she call her mother. I don’t know if she really wanted to talk to her mom or if she didn’t want him talking to ME, but what bothered me was his response. He said, “Why you wanna talk to HER? We don’t LIKE her!” Being a child of divorce myself, AND just having a respect for children as human beings, I asked him not to say things to her about her mother. He blew me off and continued to do it. I saw that as abusive. He continued to disrespect his daughter, and she continued to disrespect me.

One day, I’d finally had enough of the situation, and I told him to stop invoking my name with the child. I was tired of hearing her mouth when I hadn’t met her and probably wouldn’t. He chose that moment to tell his daughter to be nice in a “stern” voice. I said, “Sure, you guys can have a laugh about it later.” He insisted, “No, I’m serious! I don’t treat YOUR friends like that, (insert name of devil spawn here).” It was too little too late and not even the slightest bit believable to me.

We parted ways not too long ago, and it wasn’t about the child. It never WAS about the child. HE wasn’t ready to be in a relationship with a woman, and it showed in the way he interacted with his child. He was too busy trying to not only be his daughter’s friend, but to upstage his ex-wife to be the best father he could be and to be a good friend to ME, if not ever a real partner.

I still believe that dating a person with children can be extremely difficult, even when BOTH people in the relationship have children. The children have to accept that their parents aren’t going to be together anymore, if they ever were together in the first place. Then the children have to accept this new person. THEN you have to decide about discipline. You have to find time for each other. You all have to spend time together. What makes it easier is if the parent involved is a good parent to his/her children in the first place. That parent has to be ready to BE in a relationship and have let go of the old relationship. The parent must respect the children and choose a partner who will do the same.

My preference is still to date a man with no children. It’s hard enough getting to know a person in the first place. However, I don’t rule men with children out. If I’m going to date a man with children, he just has to be a good father, and any good father knows that he has to take care of his own happiness as well as keep his children happy. Besides, if he’s already a good father to his current children, that means he’s had practice for OUR possible future children.

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