Getting involved with a divorced man means that you are accepting the challenges of a complex family structure. The chances of his adult children readily accepting you are actually quite slim. More likely, they might express resentment, hostility and mistrust toward you. In fact, they may very well view your presence as an annihilation of their hope that their parents might one day reconcile. In dealing with his adult children, it is important that you establish an open and friendly relationship. Be supportive of his relationship with his kids. Despite their snubs, try to remain consistent in making them feel accepted into the new family dynamics.
Encourage Bonding Between Children and Father
Support your partner in building and strengthening the relationship with his children. If they have a good relationship, they may have specific routines, such as the Saturday afternoon walk in the park, with his kids and grandchildren. He will also be required to attend special events such as graduations, christenings and weddings. Besides the importance to the father-child relationship, this time spent together is necessary in repairing any damage the divorce may have caused, advises licensed counselor Mary Murphy, who holds a doctorate in social work. Try not to make alternate plans with him for those special times. Unless you are invited, use this time alone to bond with your own children, work on a hobby or just kick back and relax.
Give Them Time
His adult children may see you as a threat to their family. It may take some time to for them warm up to your presence in their father’s life. They may give you the cold shoulder or ignore you. Although you may feel uncomfortable, try not to become too defensive. The frustrations and emotions they are experiencing are not to be taken too personally, says marriage counselor Beth Strong. More likely, they are reacting to the distressing effects of their parents’ separation. It is those issues with which they must come to terms before they can fully accept you.
It is important to be consistently kind and friendly. Rather than trying to be a mother or to compete for Dad’s attention and affection, try to be a friend to his adult children. Consider that they have already been mothered and that they may not expect that of you. In his mind, his children and his romantic partner hold separate places, and he should not feel as if he has to choose. Make the effort to build a true friendship. Eventually, his adult children may begin to draw close to you, based on your merits. Many women have fulfilling relationships with their adult step-children, and so can you.
Invite Them In
Endeavor to include them in your family time. You can organize weekly family game nights each week, special dinners such as for their father’s birthday or Christmas brunch, and let them know how much you really want them to be there. Let them see that you consider them to be important in the relationship that you are building with their father.
Latoya Newman is a novelist who wrote and published her first novel in 2012. She has a background in education, research and counseling. She taught at the elementary level for eight years, and has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from York University in Toronto, Canada.
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