Fictional relationships are easy to create. Two people, a conflict, obstacles to overcome, attraction that can’t be denied. Life sometimes imitates art, but with three-dimensional characters and past hurts and mistakes that can’t be easily written away in a chapter or two. The difference between fact and fiction is God and His very real presence in our lives.

In my own past, when hurt by relationships and by life, I forgot God. I forgot, or maybe at that point didn’t realize that He had a plan. I forgot to pray as I chased after someone to love me, to complete my life, to make me whole. The mistake I made was in thinking a person would make me whole. God held the key to that healing process. He also knew the person I was searching for already existed. The chase was needless. Prayer was necessary. Surrender was essential.

When we begin dating, or resume dating after a broken relationship, we’re looking for a life partner. We have an image in our minds of who that person should be, how they’ll laugh, what they’ll wear, maybe where they work or what they enjoy doing.

As with fictional romance, the person who walks into our life might not be who we were expecting. They might be taller, shorter, have a different career. They might be blond and not dark-haired, have blue eyes and not brown.

Perhaps they have an ex-wife or ex-husband. They might have children.

When we develop a relationship with that person we are also going to have a relationship with their child or children. It’s important from day one to know that you can accept not just the person you’re dating, but the whole package.

There are important factors in dating a person with children that you should consider:

1.  Don’t view children in a relationship as something you’ll “get used to.” A child is a part of the person you’re dating and if you enter a relationship with the mom/dad you are entering a relationship with the child. They are a package deal.

2. Don’t use the words “even though.” As in, “Even though you have children, I still like you.” That’s a deal breaker for a single parent. It’s important that if you love them, you love their children. In most cases there is another parent and it isn’t your role to fill the place of mom/dad, but you should still love that child and know that you’ll be a big part of his/her life. You’ll attend ballet recitals and baseball games, and read them stories at night.

3. Know, coming into this relationship, that there are other people, not just you and the person you are dating. There will be another set of grandparents, another parent, and they will be in your life. For the sake of the children, it’s important that all of the adults in their lives care about their well-being.

4. Include the children in your dating. Yes, it’s important for a couple to get to know each other. But in a situation where children are involved, it’s important that you know them and include them. They will always be a part of your relationship.

5. Don’t continue or even start a relationship if you’re not willing to have these children in your life.  Everyone has a past and that past isn’t necessarily who we are now. But it brings with it certain obstacles, situations to overcome, and sometimes that past includes children.

Don’t Rush Forward without Prayer!

If you are going to date a person with a child, don’t rush forward without prayer and careful consideration. You have to know that you can love both the person and their child. A strong, lasting relationship is built on the foundation of love, of trust and communication. You’ll need a large dose of each. Be willing to talk upfront about the child, expectations, even concerns you might have. Bring God into the equation and make Him the center of the relationship. When you do that, it keeps everything in balance.

Intention Is Key

Never has the word intentional been more important in regard to healthy dating than when children are involved. If you have children or are dating someone with a child, be intentional in your dating practices.

Read More from Brenda

Brenda Minton is a popular Christian romance writer who works with Harlequin, Love Inspired. She lives in the Ozarks with her husband and three kids. More about her can be found on her website here.

Welcome to the community, Brenda! So glad to have you!

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