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When I was younger, during my college days, my friends and I swore that we would never date a man with children. This was mainly because growing up in my neighborhood, we were only accustomed to one type of single dad, and that was one who was barely present in his child’s life–an irresponsible dead beat. I also felt this way because I believed that when I finally shared parenting responsibilities with a man, I wanted it to be a first experience for the both of us.

I felt this way until I met a guy I really liked, only to find out that he had kids.

We met on the web and exchanged numbers. We talked every day through phone calls and text messages. We even FaceTimed each other. I was happy to see that we had a lot in common. Like me, he was interested in making healthy lifestyle choices. He was also an educated man who loved and looked fantastic in a good suit. We exchanged account names for social media, and I learned through his Instagram that he had a daughter. A four-year-old.

I thought about what I had said when I was in college: A man with kids is a no-no. I don’t want the drama. I don’t want to be groomed to be a child’s stepmother.

But then I had to think about dating from the perspective of a parent. He was still a person, and I would feel bad if I didn’t give him a chance just because he had a kid. I liked him, so I tried to have an open mind.

However, I learned there was another child later on, an infant only six months old. I had to do the math because something wasn’t adding up. Again, while I liked him, I learned that he was not an upfront person, and that was the deal breaker for me. How did two kids pop up out of nowhere? I felt like there was more to him than he was revealing, so I ceased communication with him.

Still, I learned a lot from that situation. Even though my friends and I swore that we would never date men with children, I’m learning that having kids doesn’t automatically make you unsuitable for dating. You can still date someone with children, but there is a way to be responsible without affecting the child. It is important to remember that you are dating him, not his kids. They have a mother. If it’s just a casual situation or the beginning stages where the two of you are still trying to figure each other out, there’s no need to stress or obsess over his responsibilities.

But he should be upfront about his children. For those of you dating with kids, I understand that sometimes you don’t disclose that information because you want to have a social life and would like to keep certain things separate, but honestly, everything will eventually overlap once things pick up with the person you are dating. It’s only fair to be straightforward instead of dropping bombs later because some people may not really be okay with dating people with children.

When dating a guy with kids, find out what kind of package deal he comes with. If he has a child, what type of dealings does he have with the child’s mother? What is their relationship like? How would that potentially affect you in terms of dating? If avoiding drama with the mother doesn’t seem doable, then run for the hills and never look back. You will never fully get to experience or enjoy your relationship if there’s always a third party stirring the pot.

It is also important to set boundaries with him involving his child. For example, unless things are getting serious between the two of you, you shouldn’t feel obligated to spend time with his child. If it’s just casual dating, then you need to remember that you are just dating him. Plus, the child’s mother may not be happy about a complete stranger being around their child so closely.

Also, be sure to observe what type of father he is. Is he responsible with his child? Does he make being a father a full-time job or is he a part-time dad? Is he a provider? When you see what type of father he is, it allows you to see him in a different light. You can tell when someone knows how to handle their business and when someone doesn’t. Would you want to be with someone who doesn’t treat being a father as if it were a precious gift? Someone who isn’t responsible?

If you’re an individual who demands a lot of attention, you may also want to be honest with yourself about whether or not you are okay with being second in a man’s life. Don’t expect him to have loads of time on his hands. If he’s a responsible dad and works hard to provide for his child, you can’t fault him for it, but also don’t think that you have to settle for a lack of time together if it’s not something you’re comfortable with. He will make time for you if he’s truly invested in getting to know you. But NEVER think it’s okay to put him in a position where he has to choose between spending time with his kid or quality time with you. If things get serious and he lets you into that part of his life, then great! You can get to know his child and have outings and do fun things together. But until then, accept that his child is his first priority.

Dating a guy with kids definitely gave me a different perspective when it comes to my preferences. Dating a man with children is always a delicate situation, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. But you should consider these things before you dive in too deep.

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