By: Jessica Hartman, Certified eFlirter, @eFlirtJillofAll
If you’re dating someone who has kids, you’ve probably thought a time or two about when, and if, you’ll meet them. When that day comes, it can seem more daunting than meeting the parents. What if they don’t like you? Will the person you’re dating still like you if they don’t?
First of all, if you’re facing this meeting, it’s a good thing! This big step means that your partner is completely committed to you and trusts in your relationship. Congrats! But yes, I know, it’s still totally terrifying.
I met my boyfriend’s kids about three months into our relationship. I had never dated anyone with kids before and don’t have any of my own, so I was more than a little nervous. Luckily, his kids were old enough to understand what was going on in our relationship and knew who I was. His 12-year-old daughter was even TALLER than me (yes, I’m short), which was a little awkward but made for fun conversation. It’s more than a year later and we all get along great. So the moral of the story is — don’t worry so much! Here are some tips to get you through it:
1. Do something fun for the first meeting. Go to a baseball game, play Frisbee at the park or head to the beach. The worst thing you could do is meet at home or go to an awkward dinner where conversation is bound to be forced. When I met the kids, no one noticed lulls in the conversation because we were doing an activity.
2. Your partner should talk to both parties involved first. The kids already knew who I was before we met, which made for a seamless transition. I can’t imagine the awkwardness of walking into confused stares of kids who had no idea who I was or what I was doing with their dad. Likewise, you should know all about them too. The more you know about their hobbies/school/sports, the more you have to talk about and relate to.
3. Know if they’ve ever met anyone else. It’s important to know if the kids have ever met any significant others before you and what their relationship was like. If you’re the first, some growing pains are bound to happen and you’ll likely need to take it slow. However, if you’re the second person, like I was, they’re probably more comfortable with the idea that their dad is with someone else besides their mom (or vice versa). If they meet someone new every few months, your approach will have to be different and more casual. An honest conversation is needed between you and your partner.
4. Discuss what your role will be. It was important for me to know that I wouldn’t need to be a second mom to my boyfriend’s kids. This took a lot of pressure off my shoulders. However, if your partner does think that his or her kids will be looking for a mother or father figure in the future, this should be discussed too.
5. Always be calm and understanding. Your partner’s kids are probably just as nervous about meeting you as you are about meeting them. It’s very common for kids coming from divorced parents to not be as welcoming as you might hope. Don’t fret! This is perfectly normal, and as time goes on and they see you more often, they’ll warm up.
Dating someone with kids definitely adds another dimension to the relationship, but it can (and should) be fun! I know it’s a big jump, but trust me, it’s worth the plunge.