Dating Man with Kid - How to Stop Feeling Left Out
Dating Man with Kid and Feeling Left Out - Question & Answer

I'm dating a man with kids. How do I get over the feeling neglected part of it? I'm glad that he's a great father towards them and I love them to pieces, but I feel left out and neglect.


Laura's answer:

Dear Donna,

Although many people in your situation might recognize their feelings, they would have difficulty admitting them. I am impressed by your honesty. It is this quality that will help you create a strong relationship with the man you're dating and eventually, with his kids.

I should preface this by telling you that I've been there and done that—I dated a man who later became my husband when his kids were teenagers (and pretty angry about their parents' break-up).

Dating Man with Kid Advice

The approach to dating a man with kids and overcoming feelings of neglect is three-fold. First, stay honest with yourself. Notice any feelings of estrangement as they occur and own them. These are your feelings and as long as no one is intentionally trying to leave you out, they are yours to claim. This is important for you to grasp, so you do not act out your feelings in a way that will hurt your chances of becoming a part of this family.

When you feel neglected, reflect on your feelings and ask yourself if you've been in this situation before—for instance, did you feel left out when you were growing up in your family of origin?

When dating man with kid, you need to earn the right to become a member of the family by creating your own relationship with the child.

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Sometimes our feelings about a current situation trigger old unresolved feelings from the past. It is hard to separate old wounds from new ones and so the feeling, in this case—feeling left out—intensifies and can cause us to withdraw or lash out at the people we yearn to be close to. Often, such people will feel that there is no basis for our behavior or that we are overreacting or being overly sensitive.

This is why it is important to follow overwhelming feelings to their root. (I'm not saying that you've had problems with feeling left out in the past, but if you have, your present feelings will be compounded by past experiences.) If you discover unresolved issues, work to heal them, so they do not affect your relationship with the man you are dating and his kids.

If you feel comfortable expressing your true feelings to this man, ask him to help you with your feelings by saying something like, "You and your kids are so close, sometimes, I feel a bit left out when we hang out together." If he is sensitive, he will do his best to help you feel included.

Dating a man with kid means that on some level, you must accept that you are an outsider. After all, you are not the biological mother of his kids. But as you earn the right to become a member of their family, this feeling will subside. "Earning the right" means spending time with the kids, nurturing and looking out for them. Experiences, not words, form the glue that bonds people together.

Be aware that In some cultures, a woman is honored as a mother even if she has not given birth. As I point out in my parenting book, Keepers of the Children: Native American Wisdom and Parenting, to native people, a mother is one who mothers. So by acting like a mother: by being responsive, tending to needs, sharing confidences and being there during tough times, you can begin to create a relationship with these children and a family to call your own.

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About the author:

Laura Ramirez is the author of the award-winning book, Keepers of the Children: Native American Wisdom and Parenting - which combines native concepts (like true child stewardship) with heart-centered psychology to show parents how to create a deeply satisfying relationship based on love and mutual respect. This book is a journey of self-discovery for child and parent.

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