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Dating Men with Kids: Does 30 Mean You’re Ready?

This is my favorite time of the year. I always look forward to the homecoming celebrations, Halloween, and most of all my birthday. This week, I turned thirty years-old. Although I hit this milestone as a single woman, I’m not too broken up about it; New York City dating leaves much to be desired and I honestly don’t have a lot of time to devote to going out and meeting someone. Besides, I’m wondering if by turning thirty I’ve crossed into a new, alternate dating universe with its own rules, customs and norms. I, like many others, have spent some time subconsciously creating a wish list that compiles all of the must-haves, negotiables, and deal-breakers in dating. For a minute, “no kids” has been a perennial entry on my list, falling somewhere between negotiable and deal-breaker, favoring the latter. However, now that I’m thirty, I’m thinking that I’ll have to adjust my list since “no-kids” might be increasingly harder to come by.

I know that turning thirty doesn’t magically change your world, but it feels like every guy I meet between the ages 30 – 37 is someone’s daddy. In fact, the last four guys who have tried to take me out all have at least one kid. I can’t possibly be a dad-magnet because very little about me reads “motherly.” No, it’s not me, I think it’s the men. As I get older, I’m just going to have to accept that there will be less no-kids men to choose from. So how do I feel about that?

I’ve only been involved with a couple guys who were fathers but never anything serious. In those situations, being a dad wasn’t the reason why things didn’t progress but it did contribute to my impression that they were unavailable for anything too involved. I feel like generally, parents who are present and involved in their children’s lives have more responsibilities and less attention to spare, which hinders dating . Understandable, of course, but at a time when I’m still quite happy with prioritizing myself and my needs, do I want to build with someone who couldn’t do the same?

As I’ve mentioned before, more and more older, college-educated, middle-class women are putting off motherhood. Some are choosing to forego childbirth and child-rearing altogether. Right now, I am planning to not be pregnant, and this IUD is working every day to keep me child-free until 2015, at least. Lately, I’ve started to get comfortable with the possibility that I might not have any children at all. Right now, I’m content playing with my friends’ kids. That’s fun but at the end of the day, I’m glad their parental concerns are not my own.

A couple of girlfriends and I have recently given online dating a try. One has a child, so the idea of a man with a kid of his own is appealing because they share one major thing in common. They’d understand the demands and concerns (and, to be fair, the joys) of being a single parent. The other girlfriend straight up listed “no-kids” among her preferred mate’s characteristics and gives the side-eye to fathers that find their way into her suggested matches. I haven’t banned dads from my online dating life — I figure there’s no need to limit a pool that could already be understocked with decent catches — and in fact I recently met up with a dad. Oh, and his son, too.

I won’t recount the details, but I had a little epiphany. While the kid was great – smart, polite, and pleasant – I realized that not only am I not well-versed in conversation with humans born after the year 2000, but I’m even more resolved to be a parent on my own terms. While I have no reason at all to believe that the guy was auditioning me for the part of Step-mom, isn’t that what you’re signing up for on some level? This doesn’t apply when you’re just kicking it with someone, keeping it 100 percent casual. But if you’re at all interested in getting to know a guy better, you’ve got to consider the very real presence and potential impact of his child(ren) on yourself and the relationship. This, I figured, was the real reason I’m worried about what growing older and dating will bring. I do like kids and I think I’d make a pretty good mom but I want to do so in my own time.

If we’re to believe the hype, black women shouldn’t be doing anything to further limit an already diminishing pool of eligible black male mates. I don’t put a lot of stock in that alarmist mess but I do know that you can end up missing out on some great people and experiences if you refuse to deviate from a rigid set of standards. I know some awesome women who are moms and guys would be lucky to have them. So while “no kids” is still a preference, I’m going to try and remain open-minded. Who knows, I could fall for a guy and his kid, totally changing what I thought was the life I wanted. I guess I don’t have much of a choice, though. Simply put, the older we get, the more likely it is that prospective boos will come with kids or encumbrances from previous relationships. We just have to decide whether we’re willing to compromise.

Last 5 posts by Nakia D. Hansen