If you are a part of the dating scene, you will find a lot of the available men are single dads. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that there were 1.96 million single fathers in 2012, and about 44 percent of them were divorced. When you date a divorced man with children, you can learn a lot about him by observing the way he interacts with his kids and with their mother. If you are lucky, he will have a warm, loving relationship with his children, and he will be a responsible parent. But in some cases, you may see signs that show a very different side of him that could be trouble.
You Never See Them
You know he has children, but they are never around. Unless there is a good reason they are not a part of his life, not fulfilling his responsibilities as a father is a warning sign. He may try to blame the situation on their mother or even say the kids just don't want to come over. You might learn that he is way behind on his child support and is making no effort to catch up. If he doesn't take his duties as a parent seriously -- he is likely to shirk other responsibilities.
His Kids Do No Wrong
When you spend time with him and his children, you might find that you and he have different expectations for good behavior. If he lets them rule the roost and doesn't listen to your concerns, probably, their unruliness will escalate. When you try to set boundaries, he might take his kids' side. If you have children of your own, this makes matters even worse. If your relationship has a future, you will have to have consistent rules to avoid a chaotic household.
His Ex Still Has a Hold on Him
Watch for signs that his ex uses the kids to manipulate him. If his ex expects him to drop what he is doing to rush over any time a crisis happens -- that's a red flag. While the kids are in his care, she may call constantly or use the kids to spy on what's going on between the two of you. Unless he's willing to set some boundaries, your relationship is going to have a third wheel.
He's Overly Strict and Harsh
If your boyfriend has unrealistic expectations and often loses his temper with the kids, this is a sign he could become abusive. It's also a concern if you try to step in and he becomes angry with you. If you see unexplained bruises or marks and suspect abuse, immediately file a report with your local law enforcement or child protective services.
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Sharon O'Neil has been writing professionally since 2008. Her work has been published on various websites, including Walden University's Think+Up. She has worked in international business and is a licensed customs broker. She is currently a supervisor with a social service agency that works with families to prevent child abuse and neglect. She obtained a Bachelor of Science in business from Indiana University.