Would you ever date someone who had kids if you don't have kids yourself? For a lot of people the answer is a flat out no. Dating a parent is...how shall we say, complicated. It's made even more complicated if that parent is a single parent or a single parent of a young child or children. There is a lot to consider and think about not only on your end, but for that parent who must also consider the needs of their children in relation to you.
For the Single Person Dating Someone with Kids...
1. You must consider that if you date this person long term, that even if you like or love them, you will need to eventually like or love their children because I think for the most part, a parent isn't going to date someone who clearly does not want or at least like kids, and more specifically their kids and vice versa. If the kids outright hate you, that may cause major problems for you or them.
2. Are you ready to take on that parental role? Having no kids yourself, you have basically no idea what it's like to be a parent (babysitting your cousins that one time doesn't actually count). We're talking all day everyday, kids are in your house, you're taking them to school, you're legally responsible for them. The person you're dating may have a certain way of raising them as is their right, and as is the right of the ex, that you may not believe in or agree to, or you may struggle with.
3. Your dates may have to involve the kids or may be cancelled because of the kids. That single/parent may struggle to find a babysitter or not have one at all, so a date may mean you're going to the park so the kids can play or they are crying in the movie theater as you try to hear the dialogue.
4. The ex-factor will always be something you need to contend with even if that person is no longer living. They may hate you and make your life hell. They may disapprove of you being around their kids without their blessing...which they may never give. If the other parent is deceased, the person you are dating may not be in a place mentally where they are ready to move on, add to that kids who will struggle with the death of their mother/father. You may never live up to the expectations of what the deceased left behind.
5. His or her family may not like or approve of you. You aren't the kids mother/father and never will be in some of their minds even if you clearly state that and believe yourself as not trying to replace the other person, but family can interfere, dislike or hate you and want you gone.
6. Financially you would have to take on the responsibility of the children. They need new clothes, they need to eat, they break a lamp, its fool hardy to believe that you won't need to share in the financial responsibilities of children living with you, and sometimes not even living with you in a long term situation as the adult present.
For the Parent Dating Someone Without Kids...
1. You need to consider if this person is first and foremost safe to be around your kids. Just because you like this person doesn't mean that makes them a good responsible person able to adequately parent your kids. You need to do your legal homework and ensure that if need be, they are able to safely stay with this person when you are not present. If they present a danger for ANY reason, the obligation is to your kids, not that person.
2. Are you actually interested in this person for you, and down the road for your kids, or having broken up or dealing with the loss of the other parent, are you more in love with the idea of having someone in house that can take care of your kids like your ex or former spouse did? You have to know that you love/like this person, not just that you want a new mommy or daddy for the kids happiness or worse for free childcare.
3. Are you willing to recognize that this person can't do everything like your ex could. This is more related to those who have lost a partner. You cannot hold up this person to the same lofty heights of your former partner and expect them to do everything "perfect" or the same like they could in relation to you or your kids. They are their own person and you have to give them room to be that.
4. Initially, you cannot expect someone without kids to just get that you have to cancel three dates in a row because of your kids. A single person is used to being the center of attention in dating and they are now having to effectively compete with your kids who's needs you as the parent are responsible for. There may be MAJOR growing pains in this department as both you and they have to adjust.
5. How much influence do your children's opinions have on your choice to date or even marry this person in the long term. If your children hate them or can't ever seem to accept this new person into their lives, are you okay knowing this for either your partner or the kids? Are you willing to deal with constant fighting and strife in your home because you love/like this person but your kids don't? Is your partner willing to accept this possibility?
6. Have you set ground rules with your ex in regards to this new person especially with a bitter ex whom you will of course still have to deal with because they are your child's parent. Have you discussed this new person in relation to your kids? Regardless if you hate your ex or not, they will be in your lives forever so the fantasy of having them never say anything about who gets to be around their kids, is just that. You have to be open and honest because if the situation were reversed and it may have well been now or at some point, you'd want the same respect in regards to your children. The same goes for your family, or the family of your ex who may still be in your children's lives. If its getting serious, have you made introductions, have you talked about the new person to them, and dealt with any issues with them head on instead of just trying to pretend that they will not be a part of your lives because they ultimately will in some capacity.
If after all these considerations, you as the single person and you, as the parent are willing to work through any of the problems, growing pains, kids needs, families needs, ex's, you CAN make it work, but you have to be willing to do the work. If you know you hate or don't want kids, is that going to change, probably not, but if you are willing to love both this new person and their kids, then go for it. As a parent are you putting your needs coupled with the kids needs first or are you just thinking about what you want, because in this situation, its not just about you. If you can do that and join this person with your family, you can make it work too. A lot to think about...