You’ve had a great couple of dates, you really like him and can’t believe you’ve finally met your dream guy – then you find out he has kids. Unfortunately, this can be seen as ‘baggage’ even though they are most probably the best thing that has ever happened to him.
It is no secret that this changes things – you have to be more understanding, a bigger role to take on and a couple more hearts to win over. Yet, if you’re properly invested, it can be the most special relationship.
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Firstly – don’t get too involved if you are certain you are not at a place in your life for children. Regardless of whether he has the kids all the time or whether it is on a time-share basis, you will be presented with this mother role. The children have already had to face an upsetting situation with their parents not together and it is not fair if they invest time and love in you for you to disappear a few months later. Therefore, before the relationship becomes too serious, be mindful of what role you are taking on other than girlfriend and whether you can properly honour it.
The most important element to be aware of is that the children will always come first and you have to accept that. With any situation, it is their feelings and actions that will be most important to the man and in all honesty, you wouldn’t respect a guy who didn’t put his kids above everything else.
With that in mind, you have to therefore allow more leniency and understanding compared to other dating situations. He has to back out of a date last minute because he couldn’t find a babysitter? The night is cut short because one of them has a bad cough? On the way to the restaurant he just needs to do the after-school activities drop off? These are all potential – and probable – situations. However, don’t let this put you off. While you do have the responsibility of being a new potential mother figure, it can also be highly rewarding.
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Top 9 tips
If you are worried and nervous about making a connection with the children then here are some pointers:
- This is an alien and overwhelming situation for them also so don’t take it personally if they don’t run to you with open arms. Be understanding and present – sometimes it just takes time.
- Don’t rush introductions – let him or the children engage when they are ready.
- They will feel a certain level of loyalty to their mother so be aware of this internal struggle they are dealing with and don’t take it personally.
- Making an effort will go a long way – if you know there is an activity that they love then arrange it and enjoy it with them. This is a lot more poignant than a gift because it also enables you to spend quality time with them.
- However, do not spoil them by attempting to buy their love – they are incredibly intuitive when it comes to this and could end up abusing this kindness if you allow it.
- Don’t be surprised that the ‘sleeping over’ part of the relationship is a little slower than usual – when the children wake up to see you in the morning, it will still be another surprise and hurdle to overcome so don’t worry that this is delayed.
- Be a friend before a parent – making a new friend sounds a lot less scary then finding another mother. Rather than being strict and controlling, be the person they can have fun with and who they feel they can talk to. This is particularly important if they do not have a mother figure in their life as children may struggle to talk to their father about certain issues and yearn after a role model they can confide in.
- The father’s word is final. Don’t try to override your partner in an attempt to win over the children because this will only result in a loss of respect.
- Make an effort with their mother and her family – by building a firm relationship with the children’s mother will be extremely beneficial for them and removes any negativity from the situation.
Ultimately, if you like the man enough and feel ready to embrace that role then it shouldn’t be an issue. Just remember that being patient and supportive is the best way forward and the rest will come.