If you wait until the age of thirty to get married, it is quite possible you will be dating a single dad. If you are one of those women who have always been the "princess" you will often find yourself replaced by a "smaller princess" around this guy. That can be frustrating and at times seem impossible.
It takes a lot of maturity to date a single dad. His number one priority will always be his children. This can be a good thing if you want a steady, dependable guy, but if you want a guy who dotes on you and you alone, dating a single dad will be a disaster.
More from YourTango: It isn't stuff that makes you happy Christmas morning
If you are in love with a single dad and willing to take on this adventure of becoming a potential "step mom" or close confidante, some of these suggestions may help to make your transition smoother.
The number one thing you must always remember is that he has a loyalty to his children. Any time you threaten that loyalty in any way, you risk hurting your relationship. Any arguments that cause you to say, "It's them or me" will end up with you being the one left alone. That threat rarely works for guys without children, and it certainly won't work for guys who have children (and if it does they are not a guy worth having).
Here are three suggestions that will make your relationship easier with a single dad:
1. Think about scheduling. People are busy and scheduling is a must for most relationships. It becomes extremely important when dating a single dad. Dads have their own work demands, but they are also responsible for the demands of their children's activities.
When he told you he couldn't have dinner until after 8 p.m., he was not lying to you (although you may be familiar with the guy who wants to meet you after he had an earlier date with someone else), this guy really did have to take his child to her piano lesson. There is also soccer and little league to contend with and no matter how much he wants to have dinner with you, he has to take care of his children's needs first.
It may be easier if he suggests that you meet him at the ball field or the park or wherever he is waiting for his children. This gives you an opportunity to see how he interacts with his children and it allows his children to get to know you without the pressure or threat that you are stealing their dad away from them.
2. Are you a parental figure or friend? It is very important that you identify the persona you want to give off to the children. Are you trying to be a parental figure or a friend?
More from YourTango: Happy Wife, Happy Life: Why Conflict Resolution Is A Woman's Job
If you see yourself as a parental figure how comfortable is their father with this? If you see yourself as his kid's friend, how do you react when they are disciplined by their father (your boyfriend)? It is important that you talk with their dad before you ever meet the children to see where the relationship is now and what the vision is for both of you.
If you are just a friend then it is wise to be a friend for the children and to not get involved with them on a more personal level. Your ability to "parent the kids" is going to be dependent on how he feels, so it wise to keep the communication open at all times with him.