Big emotions feel scary whether you’re a kid or an adult, and sometimes the only way to deflate them down into a more manageable size is to poke some fun at them. When you’re dating someone with kids, there’s intense emotion. There’s a lot of conflict, especially in the early days when everyone is finding their place.

You could end up falling madly in love with the entire family

Do you tag each other in sunset pictures because you were together when the perfect image was snapped? Social media can be silly and overwhelming, but one of the surest ways to know how serious you are can be found in the midst of gorgeous photos on the web. Very few people will post pictures of someone they’re casually hooking up with. If you two are uploading pictures of each other—or even together—it’s a really good sign that you’re ready for the commitment.

Try having a talk with your child where you acknowledge their fears and reassure them that you still love them, even if you start dating someone new. For instance, in some cases, the other parent might get the children every other week or on weekends, so they have a large role in their parenting. However, in other cases, children may only see their other parent every now and then, meaning they play less of a role in their lives.

You might be looking for something casual, or you may feel very uncomfortable around children especially if you haven’t had much experience with them. So, you’ve met the man or woman of your dreams and you’re all set to start your fairy tale romance. We sometimes include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission.

Co-parenting advice

Look for ways you can spend time with the kids doing something you both enjoy. This kind of casual interaction can help you feel more comfortable together, which may help you feel more like a part of the family. It’s a little hard sometimes when you want your boyfriend all to yourself, but just remind yourself that if the two of you had kids together, you’d want him to be present like that.

It just means we need, as adults, to create as much stability as we can for kids over time. There are plenty of ways of helping children remain connected to other parent-figures even after relationships break down. As parents, our role is to create the right conditions for those relationships to be helpful—rather letting them become another source of stress in a child’s life. You might wonder what that looked like for me as a child growing up. I knew my mother liked to go out dancing, and I would watch her get dressed up and put on makeup.

You may want to meet your ex’s new partner, but if that isn’t possible try to trust that your ex will not introduce anyone unsuitable to the children . He or she now has a new life and accepting you have no say over it can be hard. The hardest thing to accept has been my ex’s partner is able to spend one to one time with each of my children, something I’m still unable to do.

They’ve probably already done some of those things, so they may want to take things slow. And this is a great thing when there are kids involved. Essentially, you’ll be learning a new role in life and that’s always a great learning curve. When you date someone with kids, not only will you learn a lot from them, but you’ll learn about yourself, too. After all, your partner’s kids are the most important people to them in the world, it’s only natural they’d mention them often. There are no two ways about it, if you want to date someone with kids, you’re going to have to like children.

Keep in mind that these are not hard and fast categories. If your kid is a little more mature for their age, then the steps in the group above that might be better. If your kid struggles with emotional things, you might want to drop down an age bracket to have better results.

Find out if there are certain days when they’ve got custody of the kids, or whether all their evenings are filled up by picking and dropping the kids to after school clubs. Dating someone with kids can be a wonderful, enriching relationship, but it all comes down to how mature you are. Maybe the thought of being a step-mum or step-dad makes you choke up and panic, after all, you wanted a relationship, not an instant family. Dating on its own is hard enough, let alone factoring kids into the mix. This ongoing and honest dialogue is an important part of including your children in a relationship that has become important to you.

At this time, your kids probably have a lot of questions to ask, and you’re the only one that can answer them. So don’t get discouraged if they aren’t excited immediately, kids don’t realize immediately how happy their parents are or could be with somebody they love. Once they do, it won’t take long until they finally come around to the reality of the situation, and hopefully even give the relationship their blessing. Here’s the thing, if you’re not a single parent and your ex shares custody of the kids, then he’d know how to handle this conversion from his side.

I’m not someone that’s normally a huge campaigner or activist but it just struck me as completely out of place and just didn’t feel right in this day and age. And finally, be patient and avoid saying anything negative about their former boyfriend or girlfriend. Some tweens will move on pretty easily after a breakup, but some will need a little more time to process what happened and for their broken heart to mend. Be kind, caring, supportive, and positive and your tween will get through it. If your child is dealing with a breakup, it’s important that you listen more than you speak and that you validate what they’re feeling.

Dating a single parent isn’t right for everyone and it isn’t something to enter into lightly. You’ll plan a special outing and—boom—someone gets sick. Or you’ll have a long day and just want to unwind, only to find the kids ramped up and rowdy. Dating someone with kids has its perks, but it also has its challenges, all of which require careful consideration, especially for first-timers. If this reality gives you pause, it’ll be important for you to consider whether you’re ready, willing, and able to embrace all that comes with dating into a family.

It’s even more difficult to tell you kids that you are about to get married to a man who’s not their father. But don’t lose hope; there are ways to effectively tell your children you are going to get married to another guy. The first time I attended a school play, David’s daughter came out after the show. I wanted to run over and hug her, give her the flowers we brought, congratulate her on a good performance — until I saw her mom and realized that my desires were tertiary.