The concept of the American dream really hasn’t changed much over the years, aside from technological advances and more employment opportunities. Traditionally, it is still in many ways, the thought of graduating high school, going to college, the military or jumping right into a job. Then marriage, a dream house or close replica, having rugrats, taking long vacations to Disneyland
and eventually sending your own kids off to college or to their honeymoon. This generation process continues over and over through the eons. The main ingredient in the “dream” is happiness, with perhaps a splash of harmony. For the single mom, or in fewer cases, the single dad, things don’t come quite as easy. Recent divorcees either begin their for new found love almost immediately after the dreaded signing of the divorce papers or some may wait weeks, months or even years before simply deciding to accept a date. For many that have children, getting to date someone who is single, never been married and without kids, is often a challenge. Some may even seek counseling to help ease the burden of dating someone with kids.
In my experiences with dating divorced women, I always made sure to ask if they have children. It was usually within the first few minutes after an introduction. I even know of a few former bar hopping buddies of mine to ask that question before they ask their name! However for me, there was always a sense of hesitation when I would ask. I was almost always uncomfortable as to how I ask the question. I believe in the old saying, “you never get a second chance for a first impression.” I wanted to make sure that it wasn’t the most important thing on my mind. Secondly, what would the reply be? Back in my early to late twenties, I like most single guys was in search of someone attractive, intelligent and with no baggage. Someone with no strings attached or any surprises. The perfect Ms. Right. Baggage could mean different things for different guys. For me, it was kids. It was never because I didn’t like kids, I simply wanted to start a family of my own, not marry into someone else’s.
When I was about 25, I met someone that was in her mid-30’s and happened to have three young kids. One was 10 and the other two were both 7 years old. At the time I wasn’t bothered with it and agreed to meet her youngsters. We all met at a nearby Pizza Hut and the first hour or so was actually enjoyable. The kids were well mannered and seemed to like me. Then the bomb dropped. She began to ask me about my job. Then my future plans, with a slight hint that seemed to imply marriage or the “M” word. “Woah!”, I thought to myself totally unprepared for that one. I started to feel uncomfortable. Slightly dehydrated and even nauseous. She then asked how much money I made and if I liked my kids, all in the same breath. Without jumping to conclusions, I soon felt like I was supposed to answer her with “Yes, I’ll be the father of your children.” I don’t think so! My answers were simply a combination of polite responses that I wasn’t interested and a subtle, GET ME OUT OF HERE. That was the end of that.
The following weekend, I was on the search again but knew to lay low after the Pizza Hut date. I had even looked into match making and dating services, which turned out to be a huge waste of time and money. There was just something about dating women with kids that didn’t jive with my desires. I was simply afraid of the kids not liking me, even though I, like everyone else, is a kid at heart. The solution to overcome this phobia is time and experience. When you meet someone with kids and are uncomfortable, just get down to their level. Seriously! If you tower over them, squat down to be at eye level and ask them their name, the name of their stuffed animal, favorite athlete, age, etc.. Essentially be their friend. Offer them a piece of candy. Whatever it takes to get a smile. It’s amazing how far the simple things in life can go.
Sure it’s easier said than done, but with those types of caring gestures, anything is possible. For me I am now married to someone with a 12-year old daughter who enjoys calling me Dad and it’s the greatest thing to hear for me.