When you choose to engage in a relationship with a single parent — there is an underlying factor that you must never forget. You are acknowledging acceptance of them and their package deal.
This package deal includes far more than just the child or children. The child(ren) are the easiest part— however their are other implications that come along with the relationship.
In addition to the child, you are accepting:
Their Relationship (or lack thereof) With the Other Parent
Unless your single parent is widow(er) or estranged from the other parent — this relationship will never go away. It is there to stay with or without you. So you might as well get on the bandwagon, and figure out how to make it work! A positive mindset will go a long way, as most often you are your partner’s most critical support system.
The Familial Views: Both Your’s and Their’s
Depending on the history behind your single parents situation — there could be a lot of unresolved feelings you may encounter with their family. The best way to navigate this is with your partner by your side and through open communication which occurs between the two of you. So long as you are on the same page, and your partner is prepared to be the spokesperson for your relationship — this is really not a dynamic you should have to enter. However you should be aware that this dynamic may exist.
When it comes to your family, the same applies but in reverse. Your partner needs your support, and you need to remain on one accord to your family — ALL of your family. You may want to consider choosing a confidant (should you need one) that is not in your family. It is hard for family (and friends) to forget the “negativities” that you vent to them about, after you decide you are over them.
Limitation of Resources
Money, time, etc. in general will not quite be “at your disposal” the same way they would be if your significant other did not have additional responsibilities. That is just what it is, and you just have to be ok with that.
The Peanut Gallery’s Opinions
Everyone has an opinion. The beauty of this, is that it is theirs — and you do not have to take it as your own. You do not have to feel compelled to explain to everyone why you chose your relationship situation. Nor do you have to respond when they ask “how you do it”, or “doesn’t it suck to never see your bf/gf” — whatever it may be. That is for them, what you have is for you. You will need tough skin to create these very real boundaries, but soon enough people will catch on.
Their Confidence…In The Relationship
Think The 5 Love Languages, “Words of Affirmation”. It is a giant step for a single parent to open themselves, and ultimately their child to you. It is a not a decision that is taken lightly, or one without fear and insecurity. Your partner also knows that they are bringing you into a relationship that will have hardships they cannot protect you from.
All of this being said, their biggest fear is you choosing to walk away due to situations that they simply cannot control. You will need to learn the habit of practicing words of affirmation. Let them know when they handle a situation well, that they are a good parent, that you aren’t leaving at the first sign of tough times, etc. Soothe their insecurities, it will help tremendously in the long run.
A Final Note…
Understanding completely, what this means and what it means to you is important. When you “Acknowledge Acceptance” you are placing yourself on an even playing field with your partner. You do not get a special set of concessions because you are without a child, or because you accepted all of the above. You can not “throw” these matters in your partners face during an argument. If you are not sure you can handle these contingencies — be honest with yourself and your partner.
Most importantly, be prepared to walk away, before more time and feelings have been invested. It is the most responsible decision you can make when considering that potentially the child’s feelings are at stake. You must listen to the voices in your head, the angel and devil on your shoulders, your gut, everything! You need to know that you can proceed with your best foot forward, and every intention to make the situation work!