Just You and Your Girl... and Her Kids!
When you're a single parent and you're dating, it can be a bit tricky to decide when your girlfriend should introduce you to her kids, and how you should handle those first meetings.
If you're going to take this step, you want to be relatively sure you want to continue the relationship for a while. And you should know that you care enough about the woman you're dating to want to make a good impression on her children. It will help if she's talked to you about her kids and you make some effort to prepare for meeting them.
Take an Interest
Find out from your sweetheart what her kids' interests are - do they play sports? are they creative? what are their interests in school? Those are conversation starting points. Look for things you have in common and share some stories about your related experiences. But not too many! Your aim is to get the children talking about their interests and sharing their own stories.
As you get to know your sweetheart's kids, make sure you show respect for her, her relationship with them and their relationship with their dad. Especially in the beginning, children are extra-sensitive about anyone trying to come between them and their parents. It should be clear that you want to forge a friendly bond and not lay any groundwork for a tug-of-war over their existing emotional ties.
As you spend more time around your girlfriend and her kids, don't assume that you're a team with her in terms of decisions or parenting. Give her someone to talk to about the tough decisions, and share your opinion when asked. But your role should be to support her unless and until your relationship develops to a point that you've both agreed that she wants you to help parent. If that's the case, then she should sit down and talk to the children about your role first, without you. You both should emphasize that you care about everyone in the family and that's why you're participating.
Keep It Friendly
No matter how close you and your girl have become, keep the public display of affection to a minimum in the beginning. It's great to show her kids that you care about her by the way you treat her, the attention you give her, perhaps a touch on the arm, a hug hello and goodbye or a quick kiss. But save the snuggling and smooching for private time. Eventually, having your arms around each other and holding hands will be OK, but you don't want the kids to feel like outsiders when hanging out with you and their mom.
It's great that you want to make an effort to get to know her children, but don't try too hard, too soon. Let them get used to the idea of you being an important person in her life, and let them get to know you at a pace that's comfortable for them. If you both handle this well, then the children will begin to see you as an important person in their life and the affection and respect between you will grow.
As you get to know her children, remember that there will be many times when your sweetheart will put them first. If you want to strengthen your relationship with her, then you'll focus on the love you all share for this special woman.
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