The trepidation is understandable though for women who don't have children of their own. They have reluctance, if not a full-on insurgent-style resistance, to involving themselves with men who have ushered children into the world. I can't lie; there are valid issues to consider. At the same time, it shouldn't be a flat-out deal breaker.
So as a man who spent the majority of his twenties as an active single father, allow me to provide my female readers with a set of questions they should ask themselves as they proceed with caution.
Do the math. Count the children. Count the mamas. If you find yourself consciously or sub-consciously humming Lil Wayne hooks while graphing a mental flowchart of whose baby is whose, you need stick with your gut and exit stage left. I can't be mad at you.
How quickly are you introduced?
The point from which you start dating to the point that he decides to introduce you to his children is crucial. It should be a long walk, not a stampede like it's open seating event. The longer he takes the better. It shows respect for you and his children. You don't want the guy who has had a turnstile of women in and out of his children's lives like the constantly changing assistant district attorney on 'Law & Order.' (Seriously, what was up with the casting on that show? Damn near two decades or more and almost a complete absence of male assistant DAs. )
Does he take care of his children?
A man who isn't playing an active part in his child's life from near or far is suspect. If he has walked away from his children, you need to walk away from him – hurriedly like it's so bad the house is about to blow. And if he's not paying child support, as ordered, it's a red flag for other bills that are or will be neglected. Two words: foreclosure and repossession. Two more words: f#%k that. Bounce before his checks do.
What's up with the BM?
By "BM," I'm referring to the biological mother although, in urban parlance, it's seamlessly interchangeable with baby mama, a term I'm not that fond of. Regardless, of how you refer to her (or them), you need to know her general temperament and disposition when it comes to the biological daddy's girlfriends. For example, the fact that Dwayne Wade's estranged wife is on her ninth lawyer for their divorce proceedings and has allegedly threatened to sue his girlfriend (Gabrielle Union) tells you everything you need to know about her. Ideally, you want the BM to carry the grace and civility of a Michelle LaVaugn Obama, as opposed to the antagonism and belligerence of an "oh-hell-to-the-nah Obama." Big difference. Know it when you see it and hear it.
What's your role with the child?
Once you're into the relationship, you have to figure out, with his help, what's your role with the child. It's an art, but the it isn't abstract. There needs to be a clear picture of who you are and how you interact with his child. Are you taking on a stepmom role (which you probably shouldn't do early on)? Are you the cool girlfriend who wins them over and can do no wrong, or are you just the pretty lady that hangs out in daddy's bedroom that makes no attempt to bond and, therefore, becomes conversation fodder between the child and the BM? Know your role, short term and long term, and play it sincerely.
Are you ready to get over it?
Okay, let's have some real talk. Why is it that women have so many reservations about getting involved with a man with a child, while men rarely have an issue with the reverse? Men have been wining and dining your girlfriends and sisters with children for years – perhaps, even your own mother. Yes, I said it. So get over it, woman up and give that a man chance (should he deserve it).
Mason Jamal lives, observes and comments. He writes about issues pertaining to the style, substance and sensibilities of men, women, and relationships. For more of his musings, you can visit www.MasonSays.com. To have his commentary delivered to your e-mail, subscribe here. Keep up with Mason's daily thoughts and observations on Facebook and Twitter @masonsays.