In this day and age it isn’t unusual for single guys to run across women who already have kids. I myself have dated many women that had kids before, met them and have had some really good experiences. But it only takes one bad one to make you sit up and think.

I see a lot of my friends jumping headfirst into relationships with kids in the picture already, men and women alike. And it seems no matter how much I warn them they think it’s ok to involve their kids with their new mate almost immediately. In my opinion, this is really, really bad decision-making by both parties.

Having raised two girls that weren’t mine, I can tell you that not only does this negatively affect the person that isn’t the biological parent if the relationship doesn’t work out, but more so the children. Introducing your child to a new mate is irresponsible and selfish. Like I’ve said before, if you find out that he/she is right for you in the long run then what did it hurt to wait? The alternative is your child begins a relationship with someone that may not be in their lives six months or a year down the road, and if you think that won’t negatively affect their life, you’re a retard. You can try and justify it all you like but when ten out of ten child therapists recommend against it, there’s really nothing to argue.

But I wanted to focus on men meeting women that already have children. My warning to you is make real sure you are in it for the long haul before you allow your new woman to introduce you into her kids’ lives. That is, unless you have no heart.

And what I mean by that is any guy with a heart, with the ability to love children, will get attached to a child they are involved with on that level. Both of the girls I raised I now see as my children. Why not? I did everything a good father would do for and with them. I earned the right to call both of them my daughters.

One was 12 when I was first introduced to her and since I married her mother, even though we are divorced now, I still have a connection to her. In fact, she is graduating this year from my alma mater with a PhD in Education. (Try and tell me that wasn’t partially due to my parenting).

However, the other was two when I met her and that’s a whole different ball game. The 12 year old knew I wasn’t her father. The two year old had no choice but to see me as exactly that.

And for the first time in my life, my parenting skills were really tested and I found out I was great at it. And up until the age of six, I was “Dad.”

I actually started my business so I could stay home with her while her mother worked. But as the child turned six, my relationship with her mother was deteriorating.

This little girl’s grandmother told me once, “Some people are good parents, Matt, and some just aren’t and my daughter is one of them.” In other words, even my ex’s own mother doubted my ex’s motivations and intentions when it came to her child. Even while we were together, it was like I was the only parent. I did everything, from making every meal for the child to taking and picking her up from school.

So when we broke up, I had a bond with this little girl that I think even few biological fathers feel. She looked to me for everything…because I was “Dad.”

So what’s my point in telling you all this?

I was cut off from that little girl’s life for no good reason. I even offered child support in exchange for letting me keep a connection. I spent $30,000 in court suing her mother for visitation and almost won in a state that doesn’t recognize third-party parents. I missed her so much that I almost changed that law in Missouri.

But in the end, I lost. What I’ve come to realize is that the little girl lost more. She lost the one good parent she had.

Do I regret being in that relationship? Absolutely not. But I do wish that maybe I had waited to let my ex involve her in my life.

The moral of the story is tread lightly when it comes to rushing to play daddy. It might not only be your heart that gets broken.

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