A friend of mine is a single mother to an adorable 3 year old boy. She had been dating a guy – let’s call him Jim – for about a month and he hadn’t met her son yet. To prove that he was completely cool with her having a kid, Jim shows up one Saturday afternoon, completely unannounced, with a huge teddy bear for the confused toddler. This adorable little boy looked up at his mother and said, “Mommy… Who is this?” To which my friend responded, “Baby, this is Mommy’s friend Jim. And he was just leaving.”
Now I’m sure that he is a really nice guy. He just doesn’t understand the ins and outs of dating a woman with a child. So to all of the Jim’s out there, here is some advice:
1) You do not decide when it’s time to meet the kids. Single mothers protect their children from guys they just started dating and you should respect that. If your relationship fizzles out a month from now, no mother wants their child saying, “Mommy, where’s your friend Jim? I miss him.” A mom won’t introduce you to her child until she’s certain it will last a while.
2) Respect the rules. All moms have rules, for their children and their boyfriends. Even after a man has met your child, there are lots of rules. My number one rule as a single mother: No sleeping over! Even when my daughter was too young to realize what was going on, no sleeping over. A man who whines about these rules will be shown the door, permanently.
3) Don’t bring a gift every time you come over. This may seem like an odd request, but how many teddy bears do you think a child needs? And you are not Santa! My child should not associate your arrival with presents.
4) Understand, you are not the most important part of your girlfriend’s life. She has prior commitments. No matter how great the relationship is going, you can’t monopolize all of your momma’s time. She has things to take care of. (By things, I mean the beautiful child that she loves more than you. Yes… she loves her baby more than you! Deal with it!)
5) Kill the P.D.A. You might think it’s sweet and flirtatious. Moms think it’s completely inappropriate, especially if their children might see you. A hug good bye is fine. Any more than that, she might slap your hands like you’re a toddler. And you’ll deserve it.
6) Grow up, just a little. We realize you’re still single and having fun. That’s great! But most ladies don’t want a phone call at 3:00am when you’re leaving the bar. The kids went to bed seven hours ago and she’s been asleep since 11pm. Glad you’re having a great night. Tell her about it tomorrow.
7) Respect the Ex. In a perfect break-up, no one ever sees their ex again. When you have children, you see your ex once or twice a week. No matter how much a new boyfriend hates the baby’s daddy, Shut up Jim! This is the father of her child. If you want to have a future with her, you’re going to have to learn to deal with him.
8 ) Have fun! You’re in a great place. You get to be the silly, fun and entertaining one. You don’t have to discipline or change any diapers or argue over nap time. Enjoy it! Because kids are wildly entertaining and will play any game you can make up. A couple hours of hide and seek, and they’ll love you more than a million teddy bears.