Parenthood. It’s scary, it’s rewarding, it’s nothing you’ve ever done before. Having kids wasn’t on your cards yet, or maybe even ever, but now you find yourself dating someone with kids. Here, here! That was me 7 years ago. I raise a glass of wine to you because life is going to take some unexpected turns.
The great thing about dating a guy who has kids is that you can get a glimpse into how he is as a dad. There is no second-guessing, it’s right there in the way he interacts with his kids and how he parents, disciplines and loves his children.
You may or may not have kids of your own. Either way, dating a man who has kids AND is a great dad is going to make all the difference in the world. But how do you know he’s an amazing dad? There were a few tell-tale signs I spotted when I first started dating a man with kids. I will admit, I struck gold and I knew this from early on, before meeting his kids and becoming a stepmom.
There is a sparkle in his eyes when he speaks about his kids
It’s a pretty good sign when your partner lights up when he speaks about his kids. You’ll see it in the sparkle in his eyes or how he smiles when he’s telling a story about his kids. It just shows how much he loves them and how proud he is to be their dad.
He enjoys spending time with them
When the kids are with him, he is there for them and he goes out of his way to do special things with the kids. There might be less time to spend with you or his friends, but honestly, that’s a good thing. His children mean the world to him and he’s the dad who will spend time reading bedtime stories, helping with homework or playing catch.
He is concerned, scared and is not afraid to admit this
What good parent isn’t concerned and scared when thinking about their child’s future? Plus the guy you’re dating isn’t scared to admit his fears to you. Being a parent naturally comes with a level of fear. You want your kids to do well in school, have a social life, be independent and grow up into amazing adults. So naturally, there will always be a part of the parent who is worried and wants the best for their children, even when his kids are in their 40’s and have families of their own, and believe me, they grow up fast!
He is not afraid to discipline
A common complaint from stepmoms seems to be the lack of discipline and the poor behaviour that comes along with this. Typically, divorced dads may feel guilty because of the divorce and, as a result, some dads (and moms) spoil their kids. A dad who can put all that aside and move forward with the best interest of his kids in mind is a pretty great dad. He isn’t scared to discipline his kids, send them to their room when needed or take away privileges, if necessary. He is fair but also expects his children to show a certain amount of respect and chip in where they can at home instead of doing whatever they want and walking all over the adults of the home.
He is willing to learn and listen to your suggestions
As you take the relationship to the next level and become a more important presence in your stepchildren’s lives you’ll also see things from another perspective. You’ll have more insight into the day-to-day and if he’s open to your feedback and suggestions, then you’ve struck gold!
First off, being heard as a stepmom goes a long way in not feeling like an outsider.
Secondly, if my husband were to take my input for granted, completely ignore my suggestions or not take my feelings into consideration, life would be pretty miserable. After 4 years of marriage, we’re a team. Our home is our home now and not a home I moved into with him and his kids. I’m definitely not going to stand on the sidelines in my own home while living there with 2 kids half the time. Don’t get me wrong though, there are times when he simply doesn’t agree with me and doesn’t implement my suggestions. That’s just part of a relationship and being two different people.
He is involved in all the major parenting decisions.
He isn’t going to be the backup parent who does all the fun stuff with the kids but none of the parenting. He discusses all major parenting decisions with his ex and wants to be involved in every step, like education, after-school activities, important rules, and expectations. Plus he takes your opinion into consideration as well. Many of these parenting decisions, in one way or another, are going to impact your life, after all.
He respects the mother of his children
No matter what has happened in the past, he has been able to leave the past in the past and put his children’s best interests first. Even though everyone feels like he or she has every reason to bad mouth their ex, he doesn’t because there is just no need to. Hanging on to the past doesn’t do anyone any good. And talking negatively about a person to anyone who wants to listen, doesn’t get you anywhere.
There are many things that make for a great dad which I’m sure I haven’t included. There’s not a my way or the highway guidebook to being a great dad. It all depends on your own values, what’s important to YOU and so many other factors.
In 2013, Gina packed her bags, left city life in Holland behind and settled into small town living in the Okanagan Valley, Canada. This is when she became a stepmom to two boys and gained a family overnight. You can read Gina’s Stepfamily and Lifestyle blog, all about stepmom life, co-parenting, love, marriage, travel with kids and much more at This Unexpected Love or connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.