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It’s very common for guys with kids to write in their OKCupid profiles: “My kids come first,” or “My daughter is the center of my world! You want a potential mate to know that your life includes the giant presence of a kid or four. Plus, if you’ve gone through divorce or another crisis that landed you as a single parent, you are no doubt concerned about giving your kids extra care and sense of security. But it is even trickier if one or both of the parents put the kids before their partner.You also want women to know you’re a devoted dad (it’s no secret chicks get hot for guys who are great with kids! It’s no surprise that so many blended families I know struggle with adjusting all parties to a home where everyone is suddenly expected to revolve around the new relationship. One dad I went out with nearly boasted when telling me about a four-month relationship that went sour because his girlfriend did not understand why he’d abruptly leave in the middle of dinner because his tween son would call, upset about some matter with his hockey coach. A strong relationship provides security for your children and demonstrates how a loving, respectful partnership should be. After all, they can be so demanding — not to mention fulfilling.
But in this moment when men are struggling to claim their place as equal parents while society expects divorced dads to be the lackadaisical weekend father, I get why you are compelled to go overboard with your expressed devotion. If you are indeed ready for a real love, create a space for her.Stop putting kids first Imagine a relationship that centers on the two of you, and all the stability and care your kids will take from that.Accept that a truly wonderful relationship only multiplies the love available to your kids — not robs them of some of yours.Because in those families, there is all the more love to go around.A couple years ago, a guy I went out with read my blog before we went out, and mulled my opinions on putting your kids behind your romantic partner.Over cajun food he described what sounds like a remarkably happy suburban childhood headed by parents who enjoyed a 40-year marriage, five kids and two successful careers. It is his face that inspires in me paroxysms of infatuated devotion. In other words, how do you create space for for a potential relationship when kids can be so all-consuming? If you are like the professional moms I know, the pendulum swings way in the other direction — and you’re far more likely to neglect yourself.My date has only the fondest memories of watching his dad court his mom on their weekly date nights and annual parent-only vacations — in addition to the family roadtrip. “My dad made it clear that his relationship with my mom was the center of everything, while he was also the best dad ever,” he said.) highlighted a 2005 essay by Aylete Waldman about the fact that she puts her husband and their fantastic sex life above their four kids. Four children with whom I spend a good part of every day: bathing them, combing their hair, sitting with them while they do their homework, holding them while they weep their tragic tears. If a good mother is one who loves her child more than anyone else in the world, I am not a good mother. In the event you don’t seek a romantic partner, where do you focus that energy if not on your children? Looking forward to that business trip even though you have to leave the kids at home? The most interesting thing about the essay was the resulting shitstorm of controversy which landed Waldman on a much-viewed Oprah episode during which a hostile audience nearly attacked her. Cliche as it may sound: You gotta put yourself first. You must make it a top priority to hang out with other adults — girlfriends, dates, relatives and friends. Yes, that essay is a decade old, but it warrants a revisit because parents — mothers most especially — are still expected to make our children the center of our worlds, and I do love [my daughter]. It is not normal to spend all your time with children, nor make your offspring your primary emotional support. And while you’re at it, indulge in your instincts to have a fulfilling and profitable career — without any guilt whatsoever! — even though our culture tells you that stay-at-home mothers are better mothers.