What is the best birth control in the world?
Taking care of someone else's children.
It may sound like a joke, but there is a lot of truth to that question and answer. Children are basically tiny drunk people. They are loud, have almost no impulse control, and may fall asleep at a moment's notice. Despite this, the parents of children love them and consider them the most important things in their lives.
If you aren't a parent and you are considering dating someone who has children, you need to understand and respect this fully, in order to possibly succeed. If you are a parent and want to date, you understand the struggle, and you may understandably want to avoid dating another parent. No matter what your exact life situation is, the following advice will help you date someone with kids.
The Big Question
Are you willing to help raise and nurture someone else's child?
Ask yourself that question before you even think of dating someone with a child. The vast majority of people date because they are looking for a life long companion. Only a rare few, parents or not, are seeking temporary companionship with no intent of a permanent relationship. Since you should assume the former, you need to understand that your relationship may end with you as the step parent of one or more rugrats.
If you aren't willing to even potentially make that commitment, don't bother dating someone with children.
Accept the Time Management Double Standard
Single parents have to jump through hoops in order to make time for dating. They generally have less personal time than most adults for starters. Furthermore, they have to arrange for a baby sitter in order to go on a date, which may involve relatives, an ex spouse, or a standard paid-by-the-hour sitter. Because of this, you simply can't cancel last minute on them. Even giving a one day notice is a little short.
On the other hand, because that tiny human is the centre of their universe, they may have to cancel at the last second. If the child gets sick or hurt or if a sitter falls through last minute, they simply can't go on a date. Is that a double standard? Heck yeah. Get over it or date someone else.
If you are also a parent, you don't have to deal with the double standard, but you both have the hassle. One good way to ameliorate the hassle is to have your kids enjoy a play date (with only a single sitter) while you go on a date, assuming your kids get along.
You Can't Be Jealous
No matter how close you become to your partner, you will always be second fiddle in their life (or at least until the children leave the house). You will get less attention and affection than the kids will get and it is critical that you accept that like an adult. Simply put, children need more attention than you do. If the relationship is strong, you should be mature enough to accept this. Furthermore, in yet another double standard, your partner could probably use a little extra affection at times, because children are often frustrating to corral.
Furthermore, there is one specific ex who is almost certainly still in the life of your partner. That ex-husband or ex-wife is probably still in the picture, because of the kids. That relationship is already strained most likely and you just make it worse if you show jealousy or contempt for that person.
Some Advice for Older Individuals
Most of the above advice applied to younger individuals. This last bit of advice applies primarily to older individuals. If you are dating someone with children that are fully grown, you generally don't need to worry about arranging dates around nap schedules or raising other children. Heck, the ex is probably barely in their life at this point.
However, the kid is now a full grown adult and you need to form a relationship with that person. Hopefully, you get along well and everything is easy. However, if that isn't the case, you still need to remember that the child is incredibly important to the person you are dating. If you can't be friends, you need to at least be civil when together.
There is also the possibility that the child may want you to become a surrogate parent. It is a natural relationship to have with someone dating a parent, even for adults. The important point is that you need to let the child decide if that is what they want and you need to be open about whether you are willing to provide that type of support.