Newish relationship. Not met the children yet. Very nervous. Any advice?!

(39 Posts)
SniffAndMoomintroll Thu 14-Nov-13 19:56:28

Just that, really. confused

Boyfriend has two sons, 8 and 5. He is a lot older than me. I have no children (and zero experience of children). I'm also quite awkward around them - well-intentioned, but very shy with kids. I don't really know how to interact with children, tbh, and because I know this it makes me even more nervous!

I wasn't expecting this situation - I just didn't think I would meet someone with existing children. I really do want to get it right, but I'm terrified of getting it wrong. Does anyone have any advice, or just willing to hold my hand?

YoureBeingASillyBilly Thu 14-Nov-13 19:58:55

How long have you been seeing him? Is meeting the children due to happen soon? I would suggest not meeting them til you are sure you want to be with him ling term and be a stepmother. Then meet the dcs (slowly) and you reasses whether you still want to be a stepmum with this family.

MirandaWest Thu 14-Nov-13 20:01:20

How long have you been together with him? I'd agree with waiting a while and taking things slowly.

SniffAndMoomintroll Thu 14-Nov-13 20:10:02

Not that long - I'd be meeting them around the 3 month mark. He hasn't told them about me yet, but is going to very soon.

Initially he thought maybe in a few months we'd be introduced, but now he'd like me to meet them sooner. (We aren't engaged, as it's too soon for that to be sensible, but both of us are basically sure that this is "it", and we will end up married.) Their mother is very much in the picture (and they have a permanent stepdad figure already), so I wouldn't need to be their "mother figure", though I guess I would be their stepmother eventually. So I know I want to be with him, and I know I want to get it right and not to mess up.

I think slowly is good. Do you have any suggestions as to how we might do it? Would the cinema be a good idea? Boardgames at their dad's house or something? I feel I would be happiest getting to know them while "doing" something, to take the pressure off.

needaholidaynow Thu 14-Nov-13 20:13:07

Welcome! grin
Take it slowly and let anyone put any pressure on you to "step up" or do anything which you don't want to do. First rule of being with someone with kids is that you don't let anyone think you're a push over!

Oh, and remember: you aren't a new convenient babysitter or a new convenient bank account! smile

You'll be hard as nails soon! Lol.

needaholidaynow Thu 14-Nov-13 20:15:19

That was meant to say don't let anyone put any pressure on you.

YoureBeingASillyBilly Thu 14-Nov-13 20:15:53

You havent even beem with him 3 months and are sure hes the one?

Sorry but you cant be. You dont know him as a father and how his family dynamic works. You cant know any of that til you have spent much more time with them all.

This sounds like a rehash of te thread from last night just swapping the genders.

SniffAndMoomintroll Thu 14-Nov-13 20:38:14

Happy to amend that to "We're sure about each other inasmuch as it's humanly possible to be after 3 months, and without my having met his children." He's sure enough about that by now to want to introduce me to the children rather than waiting for a few more months as initially intended, and I'm sure enough about it to also want to meet them. "You don't know him as a father and how his family dynamic works" is exactly why he wants to introduce us - they're the only major part of his life that I haven't been introduced to. But they are, obviously, a huge part of it.

Thank you, needaholiday! "Welcome", I like that. grin

LittleOwlie Thu 14-Nov-13 20:45:28

Hi there,

I was in a very similar situation to you. OH has three DC from his previous relationship. We waited 18 months for me to meet them. I think that's too long to be honest, but we both wanted to be sure about things to be fair to them.

I have no DC...although my sister now has two, the eldest is the same age as his youngest. And I do want to say that I've found it very hard to cope with at times. Going from none to three every time we have them is hard to wrap your head around. It's also been tough making choices about having children ourselves. 3 is a lot to me and if we have kids too...well it's just being seriously outnumbered ��.

In terms of what I did when I met them...I took each of them a little gift and then we planned activities to be doing on the day.

Where the DC are concerned, they are generally a true delight and I've never had any attitude problems or bad behaviour directed at me because their dad is with me. I consider myself lucky in this respect.

Good luck and I hope everything goes well for you with this!

LO

riverboat Thu 14-Nov-13 20:56:22

Ohhh, I was you 4 years ago! With an older man, no experience with kids myself, not a kid person generally....totally unprepared for the reality of being with a man with kids!

I only had the one stepchild to deal with though, he was 4 at the time. I met him about 3 months in too.

TBH, there is nothing that can prepare you for the reality of what it means to have children, other peoples children, in your life on a regular and permanent basis.

I was and am very lucky in so far as DSS being a good kid, and me and DP having a friendly relationship with his ex.

Even so, I have had so many soul searching moments wondering if I could really do this step mother thing on a permanent basis. DP is the only man I have ever loved, and I am 30 so it is a big deal for me! But even with that overwhelming love, the DSS aspect really puts a different spin on everything.

That said, 4 years later I have mostly cone through the other side of my soul searching and am pretty sure this is indeed it. That doesn't mean it is always easy however.

Good luck, go easy on yourself, don't try to be perfect, be yourself. It will be lovely sometimes but it WILL be hard sometimes, you'll get annoyed with the kids, you have to find a happy medium between ensuring your own well being and taking a measure of responsibility for theirs.

Then again, no two situations are the same, I'll be really interested to hear how you get on and am definitely here for hand holdinfg whenever you need it.

riverboat Thu 14-Nov-13 21:06:15

In terms of the actual first meeting...we kept it relatively short and another mutual friend came too. We went to a children's museum/activity centre which was good as itmeant it was easy for me to find ways to interact with DSS. I'd recommend doing some sort of set activity, likeplaying a game ior having an outing, I think.

I was lucky as DSS was just happy to have an extra playmate, and if I played with him he was delighted! But he was 4, maybe with an 8 year old a different tack would be needed. DSS is 8 now and I imagine he'd be much more suspicious of me entering his life at this point...but he still loves games, so I can imagine I'd still win him over if I played with him. Probably I'd advise you to just be really calm and friendly but not overly so for the first while, then start to follow their lead more in terms of playing with them / talking to them. But if they are downright detached and putting up barriers, I don't k ow how to advise you I'm afraid as I have no experience of that.

SniffAndMoomintroll Thu 14-Nov-13 22:10:52

LittleOwlie and riverboat, those are wonderfully helpful posts - both reassuring and realistic! Thank you. I am paying great attention... riverboat, it sounds as if you would have been roughly the same age then as I am now, too.

Yes, I think I have been "protected" from it so far in many ways, in that it's been very easy for us to have a lot of one-on-one time together. I don' yet know what the dynamic will be with the boys, though I am hoping and praying that it will become easier, rather than more difficult, once they are small individuals to me rather than just generic "children", iyswim (as they have to remain, more or less, as I haven't yet met them).

Snoozybird Thu 14-Nov-13 23:48:28

Hi SniffAndMoomintroll

My situation was very much like yours, no kids of my own and no experience of them, DH older than me. I moved across the country to be with him after just 2 1/2 months together. I first met his DCs at around the two month mark, their mum was there as well so they knew they were "allowed" to like me. The DC came round for tea a few days after, I cooked something they liked and were familiar with and just joined in with the general chit-chat until they got used to me rather than get in their face and force a conversation.

I found the whole situation a real catch22 - you can't meet the kids until you're confident in your relationship with your DP, therefore by the time you realise just how hard the whole step parenting thing is you're already too emotionally invested to just walk away. Another frustration is that much of your relationship with his kids will be governed by the actions of others rather than actions of your own e.g if you have an awkward ex to deal with, or the kids resent you for "taking" their dad away from them, then what you do or don't do almost becomes irrelevant.

Just be friendly and let your relationship with your DPs kids develop at a natural pace. Cinema or trip to Maccy's etc sounds ideal.

Good luck x

Stepmooster Fri 15-Nov-13 03:40:03

Hi OP, I was you 2 years ago. DH and I were very sure we wanted to marry and start a family when we first started our relationship. We had been colleagues for 6 yrs so we did know each other beforehand, and also because he had a son we had to have a lot of, 'where is our relationship going' conversations. We now have 2 lovely babies (early menopause runs in my mothers family we just had to get on with it). DH is also 15 yrs older and I am pretty sure everyone had their doubts about us in the beginning but it works for us.

Meeting DSS for first time was VERY AWKWARD. DH brought him over to my home for a visit and then we went for Sunday lunch and a walk around a lake which had a massive play area for DSS to go amuse himself if so wished.

I remember sitting at the table with DSS in silence as DH went to get the drinks in.

DSS was nearly 10 and I would have had to have been his teenage mum in order to have been his mother so we were getting a few looks from other diners.

In the end as the ground remained in tact and didn't swallow us up I just said, 'wow this is awkward isn't it' and DSS gave a nervous laugh. I just prattled on about how nervous I was meeting DSS and how I had been looking forward to it. I told him about the playground and how I wouldn't mind if he would rather go play as we were all nervous. I'm so glad of the playground, we got to have a bit of a laugh after lunch.

I have never tried to be DSS's mum I asked him to call me by my name. I think its so obvious to anyone who sees us in public that I am DH second wife, just because of the age difference and DSS looking older (he's as tall as me now). And people look and I can see them doing some kind of mental arithmetic. I don't try to pretend we are something we are not. You can so easily go way over the top with trying to be super stepmum. Humour is definitely a way to clear the air, and lots of board games and hearty cooked meals seemed to work for us.

DSS still will mention the age thing. For some reason its still a source of amusement, 'so dad when you were starting your first job stepmooster was still in nappies'. Then there is the fact that his mum is older than DH and she is old enough to be my mother.

And I'm pretty sure the age difference is half of the issue with the problems we've had with the ex wife. We've heard it all really, and I think she saw me as not really be old/wise enough despite being 28 when DSS first met me. But we've stopped receiving her advice now we've had another child.

Having children with DH really was the glue that brought us all together. It makes us a proper family if not a traditional family.

I found this forum early on and its been a godsend, that and the book stepmonster by wednesday martin. How your DP parents his boys is going to make the difference to a positive or negative step family experience. If your DP is a disney dad, spoils the kids, let's them get away with murder and then expects you to be bad cop to his good cop then you're in for a rough ride. It might be worth having a chat about this first (or read that book I mentioned together). I put my foot down from day one with DH, he has to be DSS parent not me.

flowerpotgirl12 Fri 15-Nov-13 07:36:56

I think 3 months is very early in the relationship to be meeting his kids. although you think you've found thr one (and you may have) you're still in thr honeymoon period where everything is perfect. bringing kids in can put a lot of pressure on and I think you have to have a solid base ofva relationship first. I would wait a few more months and then take it slowly, don't be over thr top and shower them with gifts, , you'll be a regular part of their lives so go out for thr day or dinner somewhere neutral and just try yo relax and get to know thrm. be very clear with your dp what he expects your role to be eventually. good luck

flowerpotgirl12 Fri 15-Nov-13 08:57:55

sorry about typos, on phone!

LadyFlumpalot Fri 15-Nov-13 09:56:16

Hiya, I hope you don't mind me posting, I'm not a stepmum, but I have one and I just wanted to say something from the DCs POV that may help make meeting them easier for you.

Please don't try and be a mother figure to the DC straight away. Please make an effort to have a few child friendly things around your house and the makings of child friendly meals in your freezer (fishfingers, frozen chips and ice cream). It will make a it so much easier if the DC feel welcome in your house. My stepmums house was an uninviting and pristine place and I felt I had to just sit on my hands and not move when I was there.

You sound lovely and I'm sure you'll be fine!

LittleOwlie Fri 15-Nov-13 11:49:00

I would totally agree with what some of the other posters are saying. I've never tried to be a mother figure. I think of the kids in the same way as my niece and nephew. They are part of my family, and I'm a carer at times, but never an acting mum.

LittleOwlie Fri 15-Nov-13 11:54:56

I would totally agree with what some of the other posters are saying. I've never tried to be a mother figure. I think of the kids in the same way as my niece and nephew. They are part of my family, and I'm a carer at times, but never an acting mum.

willyoulistentome Fri 15-Nov-13 12:04:17

Apart from the obvious 'run for the hills' line ..

...as they have all said don't try to act like a Mum. Don't do bedtimes, don't cook for them or or deal with mealtimes. ("I don't liiiike it"to everything you cook gets very old very quickly). Don't let your boyfriend try to get you parenting the boys, or making you feel guilty if you want to go out shopping, or just want to leave him to it, when he has contact with the kids. Time alone with their dad will be very important to them.

Try to remember how hard it is for them that their dad has someone else in his life. Cut them lots of slack and let him deal with any bad behaviour. He has been theri dad their whole lives and the have a whle history with him. You have known him 3 months. Do NOT try to disciline them. Just be kind and nice and never ever criticise their Mum in any way, otherwise you will instantly be the evil step mother. Remember you have only heard his side of the story of the breakup.

or just ...run! Wish I had!

enderwoman Fri 15-Nov-13 12:21:39

Try and position yourself as friend rather than stepmum at first.
Don't discipline - the most "mumsy" thing to do would be to serve drinks, help with a tricky coat zip etc
Try and keep it light and don't be disheartened if you ask them questions and get one word answers. As they relax they'll open up more but that may take time. Hopefully your dp can tell you what they are into or dislike. For example if you told my kids you hated Justin Bieber, they would think you're a pretty cool adult.,

theoriginalandbestrookie Fri 15-Nov-13 12:26:50

How long has he been divorced/separated for?

Three months does seem quite soon, but if he has been separated for a reasonable amount of time, then it could be that he just knows what he wants !

How often does he have the DCs ? This could be an important factor as well going forward.

SniffAndMoomintroll Fri 15-Nov-13 19:07:16

Thanks so much, everyone. I'm reading all of these and they're really encouraging, so thank you!

In answer to a couple of questions: no, I'm definitely not going to try and be their mum! That never occurred to me, really, as they have a mum already. I'm more worried about the opposite, really - that I have no experience with children, and will feel like an intruder, especially when DP is so much older than I am.

He has them for less time than their mum does, but then he might have them for a week or so at a time.

The posts about making sure that I make sure that DP takes responsibility for them are really helpful, as are the suggestions for making sure that I know it's OK to leave them to it sometimes and go off and do my own thing!

Not really worried about his ex, or the relationship between them - from what I gather it's very mature and respectful. They've been separated for a very long time, and she is happily settled with somebody else.

Love the idea of making sure that my house is "child friendly" when we get that far, LadyFlumpalot, thank you! It's exactly this kind of thing that I might not think of as I'm not used to children.

Aeroaddict Fri 15-Nov-13 20:25:23

I'm another one who was in a very similar situation to you OP, about 10 years ago now. I still remember the terror I felt driving over to meet DH's kids for the first time. The only advice I would give is take it steady, and give yourself, and the DC's time to adjust. Let the relationship develop naturally rather than trying to force it. It took DSS a year before he seemed comfortable around me. He barely spoke to me for most of that year. He was never rude, just very shy. We got there in the end though, and get on great now.

noseymcposey Sat 16-Nov-13 18:53:21

Another one here who has been in your shoes. The first time I met the DSS's they were 12 and 9 and we went away to a caravan for the weekend. Talk about in at the deep end!! I remember going off partway through and having a cry because I felt so out of my depth! I am also quite a bit younger than DP and would have been a gymslip mum to have been able to be eldest DSS's mum!

Mainly because of my complete lack of youth and inexperience I've never tried to be their mum. Certainly I never tucked them in at night or anything like that! I disagree with not cooking for them though. At the beginning DP did everything for them and I did nothing because I thought that was right but I think I just ended up coming across about cold and lazy! DP and I have lived together for the last 5 years or so and I cook for doing washing for DSS's and basically do the same things for them that I do for anyone else in the household. I do occasionally tell them off as well because I think that although I am not their mum I am the (joint) head of the house so that's my prerogative.. All that is a long way down the line and has developed over the years.

Has your DP introduced people to them before? They may be quite pleased to meet you, you know. Especially as their mum is already living with someone else. My DSS's were pleased when DP and I moved in together as it gave them two proper homes.

Good Luck, it is sometimes very hard especially because there are so many times when you will have to bite your tongue and do the opposite of what you want because it's the 'right' thing to do! It's one thing prioritising your children, that is instinctive and natural. But prioritising step children, at the beginning I think is more learned/rational decision making rather than instinctive. Unless I am just selfish!!

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