Have you ever saw a single dad doting on his adorable children, loudly exclaiming, “My kids are my world!” and thought to yourself, “Wow, how cute, what a great dad, I would love to marry a guy like that”? A lot of us have. But what is it actually like to be in a relationship with Mr. My-kids-are-my-world guy? Let me tell you.
At first, you see it just like everyone else does, it’s adorable and endearing and sunshine and rainbows. You want to join in on making those children happy, you send them cookies, you buy them toys and overlook any misbehavior as the kids just being kids and dad just being a single dad. It’s all good. They are a little “shy” at first, but they’ll come around and grow to love you, you tell yourself.
Time passes and you start to notice a few things. It wasn’t very cute when one of the kids threw themselves to the floor in a tantrum and super dad passed it off as said child ‘was just tired’. But you stay quiet, it’s not your place. You also start to realize that maybe the kids aren’t very “shy”, they just don’t really like you taking up their dad’s time or space.
Soon enough, you start looking at the big picture. Every time you come by super dad’s house, his bedroom now has tons of kids’ items scattered around as they change in there (despite having their own rooms and being old enough to dress themselves) and if you’re lucky, sometimes there’s even a kid sleeping in his bed when you arrive. Short departures where the kids are left with a sitter are met with tears on the kids’ part and complete guilt on dad’s part. When one of the children’s tablet’s batteries run out, you are expected to offer them your phone. When you refuse, you are just mean. If a phone call from one of the children is not immediately answered, expect ten more immediately after until dad picks up. Don’t even think about having a private conversation with super dad if the children are within the vicinity, they will immediately feel ‘bored’ and dad will do anything that he can to make sure that he can provide proper entertainment. Dad still thinks all of this makes him look like an adorable super dad, yet when you realize that he’s not just a ‘doting dad’ but he’s pacifying instead of parenting, it’s not so cute anymore. You begin to resent super dad.
So what do you do? It depends. It depends on if super dad is open to change and or suggestions or not. If he is not, just run. Don’t look back. Let me repeat myself, run. If he is open to change and suggestions, if you choose to stick it out, do not expect change overnight. It’s not going to happen and it will be hundreds of discussions and times that you will be fed up before you see significant change with a single dad who is used to guilt parenting instead of engaging in the ugly part of parenting. In our case, it has been over three years and we are still not all the way there yet. We have come a long way but we are still nowhere near the point to where it would be ideal to try to combine parenting styles and a living situation. It has been a slow, uphill battle. I’m in a relationship with a young widower who, even prior to losing his wife, was the ‘hero’ parent, he was not the disciplinarian. His kids also lost their mother so he tried to make them as happy as he possibly could. Understandable, yes. Okay for the long term? No. If my super dad wants to be in a relationship with me, he must parent his children and put enough room aside for our relationship as well.