Navigating a relationship when one partner has children can be tricky. If your boyfriend has kids, you probably want to get to know them at some point. If the relationship progresses and you get serious with each other, forming a bond with his children is the next step. This can be difficult, especially if the kids are upset about the break-up of their parents' marriage. It might take some effort, but getting to know the kids benefits all of you.
It's not smart to try and get to know your boyfriend's kids if you just started dating and are still getting to know each other. Forming a relationship with the kids too soon can result in heartbreak for you and them, if you and your boyfriend decide to call it quits. Date for a few months before you consider meeting his kids. This way, you'll know whether you have a future together. Once you have a solid relationship and your boyfriend is comfortable with it, you can meet his kids and start spending time with them.
Because your boyfriend's kids might not warm up to you at first, a neutral and public setting makes the situation less threatening and more relaxed, writes Marina Sbrochi on GalTime.com. Instead of attempting to get through a home-cooked meal with kids you've never met, consider taking them to a carnival, a friend's cookout or the local ice cream parlor. Let your boyfriend introduce you as a friend and leave the romantic aspect out of it until the kids get comfortable having you in the picture. The museum, zoo or a concert are other ways to get to know the things your boyfriend's kids like as you learn more about each other.
Getting to know someone new takes time and it can be intimidating for kids to have a conversation with an adult they've never met. Ask the kids questions to get a dialogue started. Questions about school, favorite movies, best friends, hobbies and goals for the future are good choices for learning more about your boyfriend's kids while also letting them talk about a familiar subject. Share tidbits about yourself where appropriate so they can get to know you a little more too. Listen to what the kids say and value their opinions and responses, so they know they can trust and care for you.
It's easy to expect that your boyfriend's kids will like you, since you love each other and want to be together. The truth, however, is that you might be met with skepticism and even outright hostility. Keep your expectations low. You aren't going to become their best friend overnight, and you might have to work at enjoying their company. Don't try to discipline your boyfriend's kids, which can make them resentful from the beginning. Treat the kids with respect and care and work on the relationship as you would with anyone else. Over time, you'll form a bond and grow to cherish each other.
Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.