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Hey guys, I have a curious question for you all. I’ve been dating someone pretty fantastic for 5-6 months now. We’re taking things slowly and it’s going really well. We’ve gotten to the point where he now wants to introduce me to his kids, yay! Thing is that I’ve never really been around many kids, and am in need of some advice on what to talk about with them. I don’t have any nieces or nephews, and my friends who have had kids tended to keep to themselves once they became Moms. So, I have little experience with kids, unfortunately.

His youngest (8) is fairly shy (like me), but we have a surprising number of things in common (both love: crafting, baking, animals, being outdoors). His oldest (14) may or may not be there. She mostly lives with her Mom (BF’s STBXW), and is her biological daughter. BF adopted her when he and his ex got married. She a little trickier, and I don’t know as much about her interests.

I’m excited to meet them both, but am of course nervous as well. It’s a huge step, and I very much want them to be OK with me. Especially his youngest, as she lives with her Dad every second week, so she’s around much more than her sister.

Next week, apparently I get to meet his parents…. Things are progressing! :)
 

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Congrats on the progress! You will probably have no issues with the 8yr old, especially with having things in common. Maybe just ask a few questions about things you know she likes, and relate a story or two about the same thing. Since she likes crafting and baking, maybe take something along that you made that you can talk about, or some goodies you baked. You arent looking to bribe her, but just to draw her out a little. The 14yr old will be your challenge, I'm sure. If she is involved with activities at school, like cheer, band, drama, or whatever, ask her about those things. Ask what kind of music she is into.

If they dont seem interested in talking and let the conversation drop, then I would suggest you let it, dont push too much. If you're lucky, they will ask some questions about you. Also I would suggest you not be touchy feely with their dad when you meet, I am sure they are not ready for that and it would make them very uncomfortable. I can remember when I met my future stepdad the first time, and all those emotions. Kids feel protective of their parents, so just be aware and respectful of that and you should be fine!
 

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It might be easiest to meet them at an activity rather than at something where you're all just sitting around trying to think of things to say. For example, go to something like a kite festival where the kids have things to do and can interact with you in a more casual way. They can drift off and come back as they please. If you do something like have lunch at a restaurant, they're locked at table for the whole meal and may feel forced to interact.
 

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Keep it breezy. Don't feel compelled to keep them engaged and talking. Don't be surprised if the 14 year old is utterly ambivalent.


Seconded. Keep it cool and casual. Don’t try to be their buddy, just be open and inquisitive in a very casual way. Like if you were meeting your buddy’s kids for the first time. Names, cool things they’re into, what you’re into, that kind of thing.

The teenager will likely view with some suspicion and even hostility, and that’s cool.

I’d also recommend the first meeting is very short, at a neutral distracting location. Like going for ice cream for half an hour, or a walk in the park or something.

If it goes sideways everybody should be able to pull the pin without a lot of drama.
 

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I was going to say the same as Wilson. The last thing you want is to be each other's captive audience, so the meeting should take place at an activity.

What 3xnocharm says is good advice. Just be aware that children are more keen than adults give them credit for. My concern would be their acute awareness of you trying to bond with either of them with conversation about things in common, asking questions, or show & tell in order to draw the 8 year old in. IIIIII'm not sure and I'm kind of scared. She might be a delightful child, in which case she will be the one to make you comfortable. Or she might be suspicious of this woman with daddy, in which case she will recognize your efforts and will resent them and therefore you.

I was 12 when my parents separated, and I was happy they finally did. When my mother dated other guys, I was pretty much indifferent except for one who I really liked. It just never occurred to matter to me. So when I began reading about stepchildren and step parenting and visiting stepparent forums after meeting my husband's two adult children, I was appalled to find out how hard it is for stepmothers. Fortunately, I didn't have any problems with my stepkids and that's only because my husband isn't a guilty daddy or disney daddy (look up those syndromes). What he told them in our first meeting was "This is my girlfriend, and I expect you to respect her."

Ursula, reading this right now on this day, you probably have no idea the importance of that last line I just stated. Yes of course you're concerned about meeting his kids and I know you're a little nervous, but what you should be most concerned about is his interaction with them because whether he is the one in control or whether he allows them to be in control will be crucial to your relationship with them and with him. It will determine whether you and he have a good and happy relationship (or marriage later) or whether your life will be spent in utter despair.

Okay, okay, okay I know that seemed a little dire and probably too much for you to absorb right now. I said out of being unable to decide if I should offer you a crash course in step parenting or simply introduce you to some things to look out for. I opted for the latter, but I encourage you to educate yourself. I spent 10 years in informal study on the subject and interacting with stepmoms on the internet and real life. So please know I'm not trying to scare you. I'm just trying to bring you out of the cloud you're floating on because it can be very disappointing. Best to have realistic expectations. So don't let me bring you down. Just be open and objective. Don't do what we women have a tendency to do, which is to ignore the red flags.

A truncated excerpt below from Dr. Wednesday Martin's book "Stepmonster". It was theeee very first book that told the story of stepmothering the way it really is. All other material prior to her book painted unrealistic pictures, gave stepmoms unrealistic expectations, placed ALL of the responsibility AND the blame on the stepmother, and gave women no real help or solution, nor acknowledged their sadness for the state of their relationship/marriage due to him and his kids. Please get the book and read it. It doesn't offer much by way of help or suggestions, but it will be an eye opener you will very much appreciate.

My marriage was meant to be. It was also doomed to fail. You see, I chose a man with children. Experts estimate that more than half of all adult women in the U.S. will do the same in their lifetimes, and that up to 70% of those partnerships will fail. Factor in all the odds and on the day I said “I do,” I might as well have picked out a divorce lawyer as well: the greatest predictor of divorce is the presence of children from a previous marriage..... Even more alarming for my marriage, according to the statistics that I was blessedly unaware of until after I committed for life, was the fact that my husband had not one but two teenaged daughters, and was living with one of them when we got engaged (unbeknownst to me, experts recommend delaying marriage to a partner whose child is between the ages of ten and sixteen, so great are the risks of conflict for the couple and the household during that particular period of a child’s development). The final high-risk factor: I was a childless woman marrying a man with children (some experts suggest that women with their own children fare better in a marriage to a man with children, although they face a whole different set of emotional and practical challenges).

The best place to ask questions like this one and any others you have is on a support forum with other stepparents, and fortunately, mostly stepmoms. Make an account at StepTalk.org and search the internet for as much information as you can absorb. There are a lot of articles and support sites out there and please believe you're going to need it. And don't forget to pay attention to who is in charge and runs the show - dad or the kid(s).
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks y’all! I’ve shared with BF my nervousness about meeting his kids, and he’s told me he feels that he chose someone (me) who will get along really well with his kids, and that he thinks all will go well. I found out what their favourite cookies are, and baked some. As for the older girl, I don’t want to ask too many questions about school, as her Mom let her drop out for the last couple months of last year. And I definitely won’t be touchy-feeling with their Dad in front of them; I feel like that would be a recipe for disaster. Bowling seems to be the activity for that evening, and I think it’ll be good to have something to do that isn’t just sitting across from one another.
@StarFires — I never thought about that side of it; thank-you for enlightening me! He seems to be a good, stable parent, and not someone to let the kids run things, but it’s definitely good to keep an eye open for such behaviour. I don’t feel like I’m on a cloud per say, because I know this meeting is going to be an important one. It could make or break the relationship to be honest, and I’m aware of that, which is why I’m nervous. But, I need to meet them now because meeting them a year or two down the road would be incredibly stupid.
 

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@StarFires — I never thought about that side of it; thank-you for enlightening me! He seems to be a good, stable parent, and not someone to let the kids run things, but it’s definitely good to keep an eye open for such behaviour. I don’t feel like I’m on a cloud per say, because I know this meeting is going to be an important one. It could make or break the relationship to be honest, and I’m aware of that, which is why I’m nervous. But, I need to meet them now because meeting them a year or two down the road would be incredibly stupid.
I don't want to be tiresome, so I'm going to just say this last thing. My dear, you just made your first mistake with "He seems to be a good, stable parent, and not someone to let the kids run things" but if you haven't met them yet, how can you know what kind of parent he seems to be? That's the cloud I was trying to bring you out of to let you know you really want to approach this relationship as realistically (and observant) as possible. I have no doubt he's already given you his idea of himself as a father. Don't believe it. Be observant and see for yourself.

Just for clarity, I didn't literally mean "run the show". I said it to allude to any likelihood he might be a permissive guilty daddy or disney daddy (sorry ass daddy in other words). If he doesn't require their attention and respect when you meet them, then that is a red flag. Let's say the 14 year old rolls her eyes or is rude to you. Will he require her to apologize and straighten up, or will he give you excuses for her behavior? If the 8 year old smacks her food or talks with her mouth full, will he require that she eat properly, or will he just ignore it? That's the kind of stuff I mean.

Okay so have fun! Try not to be nervious but I know easier said than done.
 

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I don't want to be tiresome, so I'm going to just say this last thing. My dear, you just made your first mistake with "He seems to be a good, stable parent, and not someone to let the kids run things" but if you haven't met them yet, how can you know what kind of parent he seems to be? That's the cloud I was trying to bring you out of to let you know you really want to approach this relationship as realistically (and observant) as possible. I have no doubt he's already given you his idea of himself as a father. Don't believe it. Be observant and see for yourself.

Just for clarity, I didn't literally mean "run the show". I said it to allude to any likelihood he might be a permissive guilty daddy or disney daddy (sorry ass daddy in other words). If he doesn't require their attention and respect when you meet them, then that is a red flag. Let's say the 14 year old rolls her eyes or is rude to you. Will he require her to apologize and straighten up, or will he give you excuses for her behavior? If the 8 year old smacks her food or talks with her mouth full, will he require that she eat properly, or will he just ignore it? That's the kind of stuff I mean.

Okay so have fun! Try not to be nervious but I know easier said than done.
Very true, and I can only go by what he’s told me at this point. I googled “guilty daddy” and “disney daddy”, and from what I can see, he’s neither. Of course he supports his kids and buys them what they need with the occasional treat, but he doesn’t go crazy buying them everything they want. And as for leaving the discipline to his ex, he also doesn’t do that. If anything, he seems to be the parent trying to enforce discipline. But, I can only go by what he’s told me. Time will definitely tell though!
 

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Best thing you can do is ask them about themselves. People love to be asked about themselves, even if they pretend they don't. What do they do for fun? Do they play video games? Which ones? Sports? Favorite one? What's the most fun you've had making in the kitchen? Do you keep a scrapbook of pictures? What kind of books do you like? What do you and your mom and sister do for fun when you're together? What is the silliest thing your dad has ever done?
 

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Bowling can be fun, but it is also a competitive activity and can lead to hurt feelings if someone isn't doing well. Have they gone bowling before? If they've done it a lot and have fun, then it'd probably be okay. But if someone is throwing gutter balls all night, they might not be in a good mood. And just in case, make sure to stay in a good mood no matter how well you're playing. :)
 

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Bowling is a great idea!! Or there's the option of a movie and a quick bite for dinner afterward - where you could talk about the movie.

As you know, I'm a stepmum too, and I just wanted to echo @StarFires comments about your partner. You're not the only one being "tested" here - you also need to watch how he handles the girls. If all goes swimmingly, wonderful, but if they are rude or disrespectful what does he do? Does he pull them up or let it go under the guise of "it's tough for them".

If it's the latter be VERY wary. The kids don't have to like you, but they DO have to treat you with respect, as they would any other person they were introduced to. Parents who don't expect this at a minimum are failing their kids in spades.

As to the rest of it, don't try too hard. Let the kids come to you on their terms - kids aren't stupid, they'll have you sized up in no time flat ;)
 

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Oh I am beyond excited for you!!!

Like you, I have no children.

My now husband waited for me to meet his daughter until we had established a good relationship. Which attracted me to him even more lol.

I won't repeat what the others here have told you-all excellent advice.

Just don't try too hard. Be yourself. Have a great time.

I hope you'll let us know how it goes.
 

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His youngest (8) is fairly shy (like me), but we have a surprising number of things in common (both love: crafting, baking, animals, being outdoors). His oldest (14) may or may not be there. She mostly lives with her Mom (BF’s STBXW), and is her biological daughter. BF adopted her when he and his ex got married. She a little trickier, and I don’t know as much about her interests.
You're a brave, brave, brave lady.

I had 3 rules when I was dating:

  1. No bald or balding guys
  2. No guys with dependent children
  3. No separated guys
Hopefully, he parents them the way he told you he does, and he doesn't let them run the show due to his 'divorce guilt.' I've seen a whole lot of guys doing that over the years and I'd rather have my gums set on fire than be a part of that hell.

Good luck!
 

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Bowling can be fun, but it is also a competitive activity and can lead to hurt feelings if someone isn't doing well. Have they gone bowling before? If they've done it a lot and have fun, then it'd probably be okay. But if someone is throwing gutter balls all night, they might not be in a good mood. And just in case, make sure to stay in a good mood no matter how well you're playing. :)
I'm a terrible bowler but a good sport, and everyone there will probably kick my butt :grin2:
 

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When I first met the 10 year old I was to be a mentor for (I know this context is different), I felt nervous beforehand. Like you, I'm not around kids often. If this helps at all, I echo another suggestion here of keeping it breezy. I checked any expectations at the door. Before we set off in my car, I asked if she liked music and what she wanted to listen to. I didn't know if she would even answer me. It was the ice-breaker and we drove to the park with her selecting our playlist, singing along, and then sharing about herself. I was conscious not to ask too many questions, and those I did, were light and open. Demonstrate that you're listening, be genuine, don't worry about silences. After a few of our catch-ups, she started asking me questions about myself - and had a particular interest in hearing about our dogs. She went from being scared of dogs, to wanting to meet mine. So at her request, I took the dogs along one time. Small steps, and before I knew it, she was walking one of the dogs confidently beside me. She looked forward to us walking them together. Sometimes she would make up voices for the dog she walked, and engage in playful stories. One of the most fun days we shared was going to the park with the dogs, she accidentally ran across a muddy part, socks and shoes full of mud. We tried to rinse them, and she had a brief moment of worry as she didn't want to wear them and was concerned how she'd get back to the car. I kept it light, reassured her, and we turned it into a silly moment with her giggling hysterically while she clung to me as I gave her a piggy-back ride across the park and back to the car, while holding two leashed dogs in one hand, and her muddy shoes and socks in the other. Keep it light, be yourself.
 

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I would guess that it may take some time for the 14yo, especially depending on the ex.

My BIL introduced his new partner to 16 yo daughter. Their divorce had been a mutual decision but his ex was very jealous that he started dating first. She made D feel like it would be disloyal to like the new woman. The new GF did not push and just quietly showed up for events. They are now married and she has a very good relationship with D but it took over a year for her to accept her.

My advice is to be patient if it does not go as well as you hope.
 
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