This past weekend I attended an event in New York, called “Know Good Dads” produced by the fine people of Together Apart. As the talk of single parents, daddy issues and baby mama drama proceeded I started to think about my own dating life. I don’t have any kids (thank God) but I have dated two men with children and without relationships with their fathers.
As the dialogue of the event continued it made me wonder if having a child is in any correlation to not having a father around? When the event concluded a woman approached me and asked in the utmost sincerity, “Why would any young woman date a man with kids?”
I had to think about it. My answer shocked even me. To discount men with kids would exclude a large percent of single men available to date. Had my mother not dated a man with children, I may have never been born so of course I see nothing wrong with it but is there?
For those of us who don’t have children it’s easy to point a finger and say to single fathers and mothers, “You messed up, you made a mistake, you chose the wrong person as a partner.” How did these men and women once love the same people that they now can’t stand or barely like?
Adult singles have to deal with the reality that for every man with a child there’s a woman. With the divorce rate as high as it is in western culture there is a likelihood that you will eventually meet a person with a child. In my case I have dated fathers and it wasn’t a factor in our relationship. In fact what I found more of an issue wasn’t that the man I was dating was a father, it was that he didn’t have one. I was in a very long love affair with a man whose father committed suicide. He had more issues than a magazine subscription and it made our lives and relationship in a word: difficult.
Too often as adults we don’t account for the childhoods and or mental states of the people that we’re dating. We sort of assume that everyone is fine. We assume that everyone is mentally healthy and emotionally stable, never stopping to consider that this potential date might have an issue. A deep-seated emotional issue that causes them to act in ways that you may never understand.
The event in itself confirmed one very important concept in dating that somehow seems to get forgotten, we all have issues. Having a child isn’t so much an issue as having to co-parent. It isn’t so much an issue as wanting to be a better parent than you may have had.
In fact having a child isn’t as big an issue as dealing with the hurt, rejection, frustration and unreasonable behavior from who you had the child with.
As daters it’s important that we all be sympathetic and empathetic to each other. You may choose not to date someone with a child because of the lifestyle it comes with or maybe you’re judging that they had unprotected sex, that’s cool.
When it comes to choosing who to date however the missing link is: accountability. We have to make better choices in who we date and have sex with. We have to choose good people to date, whether they have children or not. We can’t assume that those without children are mentally, financially or emotionally stable. Sometimes children ground people. They give some people a purpose their life had long been without. The benefits of dating someone who loves a child can be extraordinary.
It’s easy to say you wouldn’t date someone with a child but I find in dating and relationships it’s not the child but our own childhoods that impact on our love lives.