So you’ve met a great guy. He’s funny, interesting and pretty cute. There’s just one hitch – he has kids.
Combined families are pretty common these days, but advice on how to handle the new family dynamic tends to be scarce. Assimilation into a blended family situation can be difficult for both you and the children, so follow our relationship advice to make the process smoother.
You might find yourself in the awkward position of not being liked by your partner’s children. This is normal considering that the children’s foundation might be a bit shaky following the break-up of their parent’s relationship. It is sometimes tempting to force a relationship here, but this might not be the healthiest way to go about it.
Always have respect for the children, in addition to empathy for the potentially difficult situation they are facing. You cannot expect that your partner’s child is going to fall in love with you right away. They need to get to know you in their own way.
Respect for your partner is important too. Never force your partner to choose between you and his children. Ultimatums only end in broken hearts – either yours or the children’s.
Keep in mind that you will most likely be dealing with your partner’s ex. Civility can go a long way. Never seek to hurt your partner’s ex, especially by speaking ill of her in front of the kids.
Are you my mother?
You must realise that you will never replace the children’s mother. You can be a responsible maternal figure, but you need to toss out the idea that you can change the relationship between a mother and a child.
Most parenting experts suggest that step-parents should not take on the role of disciplinarian. This is considered quite difficult by many women, but it does alleviate much of the stress that comes with step-parenting. It is best to discuss any possible parenting issues with your partner before following through with them.
Some people take on the role of step-mother as a way to have a friendship with the child. Spend quality time together and really build a dialogue rather than running away from building a strong connection.
How to be a family
Empathy and patience can go a long way, but there are also plenty of other ways you can make your combined family work for you. In a successful blended family, everybody has compassion. Adults understand the needs of the children and actively work to fulfil them.
Ultimately, happiness is possible for combined families. This new relationship could prevent you from throwing away a wonderful partnership. Remember that no family is perfect; there is always room for growth. Instead of expecting quick results, aim to build a foundation with successful interactions on a small scale.
What are your tips for making a combined family work?