How to treat a lady, take five: Her kids

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The girlfriend's daughter and two sons at Nathan Sawaya's LEGOs exhibit.

Dating a girl with kids. Going to be honest here. It’s not something I’d thought about before the girlfriend and I started hanging out. Not that I was opposed to it. I’d just never considered it.

What I do know is the fact that she had kids sure as hell wasn’t going to prevent me from dating her. All you have to do is look at her for the explanation.

The girlfriend and I at Winefest.

In all seriousness, I love kids. I was fortunate enough to live with my brother’s kids for a couple of years after moving back from Texas in 2003. It’s proven to be one of the most valuable learning experiences of my life.

Changing diapers, feeding babies, crisis management, reverse psychology. You name it, I’ve taken a course in it thanks to those two years.

My niece and nephews climbing all over their uncle.

Nonetheless, I wondered how tricky dating somebody with kids was going to be. Let’s be honest, if they hate you, it’s a deal-breaker. All there is to it. But if they like you, even love you, that’s pretty damn special.

I didn’t meet the girlfriend’s kids – she has two boys and a girl – until nearly two months into the relationship. If you asked her, that was a lot earlier than she expected. I figured it’d be several months.

But she’s smart … and honest. The kids asked her about the guy she was dating, so she shared. And she built me up. By the time I met her kids, she had them convinced I was Superman (only on weekends).

Yes, I have an obnoxious tat.

Despite displaying my cooking skills with a feast of pancakes, bacon and eggs at our first meeting, the four of us didn’t hit it off right away. Understandable. Seven months later, it really can’t be going much better. A few of the reasons why …

KINDNESS …

It pays to be nice. I’ve taken the oldest son to work with me for a day, the younger son to an art exhibit and the daughter to Dave & Busters. None of that stuff is very expensive, but it’s been obvious the kids appreciate going out and having fun with their new live-in.

The boys and I before tailgating.

HONESTY …

But not necessarily direct. I’m not their dad. I know that. But I also know that they know that. They respect that approach. I’m not taking over, simply adding to their lives.

RESPECT …

This took a little time, at least for one of the three. Of course, this child could test the patience of Job. Being firm when you need to is important. It probably helped that I had to unleash the “look” at one point. It’s been gravy since!

CONTRIBUTE …

I think this is a mistake a lot of guys make. It’s OK to try. Kids appreciate genuine effort to be a part of their lives. I’ll help one clean up their room, show another what I do at work, then take the other to work out.

Just finished a 5K. Maybe I'll train one of the kids to run one next.

BE A GOOD MAN …

I’ve said this many times … kids are not stupid. They see things most people do not. What they see better than most is bullshit. If you’re a turd, they know it. Being a decent person goes a long way.

LAST, BUT NOT LEAST …

Treat their mother like gold. “The best way a man can make his children feel secure is to show them how much he loves their mother.” It’s true. Click here, here, here and here for more on how to treat their mother like gold.

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