Newish relationship. Not met the children yet. Very nervous. Any advice?!(39 Posts)
Just that, really.
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?
Oh dear. DP has apparently gone ahead and told them. DSS2 (will call them DSS1/DSS2 for short, as typing "DP's eldest child" and "DP's second child" seems a bit laborious, even though they're obviously not my stepchildren at the moment...) was apparently completely fine about it, very unfazed. DSS1 was, however, not. I know it's completely understandable, but I am really sad. Obviously not saying this to DP, as I don't want to upset him. I said I'd be happy to wait to meet the children for as long as he thought was good, but he thinks we should go ahead with the meeting.
I think now he's told them it's a good idea to meet them so they can see that you are quite normal and nice and not have a chance to build you up as some unknown entity!
Don't take it to heart that DSS1 wasn't happy. When I met the DS's, DSS1 sat sulking in the back of the car with his sunglasses on (in october) and could barely get a word out of him. By the end of the weekend he was asking when we could all go away together again. I am a distinctly average step mum who is a bit rubbish with children so this is not because I was so amazing and won him over! I think the idea of it was just worse than the reality.
Please don't be put off by DSS1 not being keen. He could well change his mind when he meets you!
Thanks, nosey. Your second para has cheered me up a bit... I hope it is just the idea, and not the reality. In answer to your earlier question, no DP hasn't introduced anyone to them before so it is something new from that point of view. I had hoped that the fact of my not being the first "outside" figure (because they have a stepdad) might make it easier, but I guess DSS1 would have been very small when his mum remarried.
It's most likely a bit of resistance to change. FWIW DSS1 was also not very keen when we told them I was pregnant (some years after meeting them I might add!) And he now dotes on his baby brother. Some people are just suspicious of things changing incase it's for the worse.
As long as they don't feel like you are taking their Dad away etc etc (i.e. be led by them/DP when you meet them) and make sure that they come first. So no cancelling when DP would normally see them for things you are doing together... obvious things like that. I really think in your situation it will be fine! They have no reason not to like you! DSS1's lack of enthusiasm is probably a lot to do with the sort of nerves you are feeling too - the thought of someone new coming in to your life is very daunting - rather than an actual aversion to his Dad having a gf.
Actually it reminds me, when DP and I moved in together for a while DSS1 came to us every week instead of every other weekend. DP was happier and that reflected in his relationships with his children. I'm sure there are times when the DSS's don't 'like' me same as sometimes they do my head in but overall if you are making their Dad happy and are decent person IT WILL ALL BE FINE!! You may be not be best buddies but they probably won't rub your toothbrush in the soap either
Good Luck OP I can well remember how daunting it was at the beginning!
Sniff - good advice from nosey. If DSS1 is sulky or detached when you meet him, I'd say don't try too hard to win him over. Just be normally friendly and nice but let him have his own space. Show him you aren't intending to mother him or take his dad away, and hopefully he will come round naturally over time.
Kids are contrary at that age anyway, but can adapt to new things quickly. Every couple of months DSS solemnly announces that he does / doesn't want DP and I to have a baby for X, Y, Z reasons. He can't make his mind up, it keeps changing. We're not even planning a baby in the near future and have told him, but that doesn't stop him having strong yet ever-changing feelings on it...
Do you know what you are going to do for your first meeting? Was thinking if you went round to their Dad's for an afternoon/evening when they are there for the weekend ,it might be nice as it's in their comfort zone. So you could visit, hang out for a bit and then go again and then it all feels like it's on a footing where they are quite secure?
Maybe not for a first visit, but as you get to know them things like playing board games/watching films together were good ways for us to spend time together. Neither DSS's are big talkers so it's a good way where we can all connect and gives us something specific to talk about. Even now they are nearly 18 and 15 they still like playing games with us.
Normal, friendly, nice, don't try too hard...got it. My problem will probably be that I'm very shy - if I know someone likes me then I can basically chat away no problem, but that's adults: I'm nervous chatting to children at the best of times. And this is quite clearly not going to be the best of times, because he doesn't want to like me!
I think we're going to go to an activity centre, so that the children can play and sort of get used to the idea of my being there too. DP doesn't actually know what DSS1 will be like when we meet, he says - I think he's trying to reassure me that if DSS1 acts up then it won't be "my fault", but he isn't too sure what to anticipate.
Activity centre sounds good! That's ok if you're shy, just smile! You don't have to try and 'make them like you'. Most of the work will be for your DP to do to be honest as he has the relationship with them. You just need to sit there and 'look friendly', I think at the beginning they will prefer you to be more in the background so shy is probably not a bad thing. I found it really difficult to talk to DS's at the beginning as had nothing in common with boys of that age. I still have no clue what 12/9 year old boys like to talk about. I did a lot of 'ooh I like this one' to any song that DSS1 played. I can remember the tumbleweed.... Not trying to make you feel nervous, just trying to point out that even if it feels awkward sometimes, which it might do that is absolutely fine! If you are going to be a big part of their father's life you have plenty of time to get to know them.
Obviously everything I say is only based on my own experiences and what my DSS's are like. But it can be lovely you know, to have two new people in your life who you will really come to care about
Good luck! I was also in same position as you and was introduced after 2 months.. we didn't know if we would be together forever but that kind of helped. I guess others would disagree but it meant there was no kind of big fanfare saying "meet your future stepmum" on our first meeting... we didn't pretend I was just a friend either but I did try to be sensitive.
For instance when we went out I made sure I didn't hog the seat next to DP (now DH) for instance, or try and push myself forward too much. I'm still conscious of this actually as I'm aware I have their dad to myself all the time they aren't here. As mentioned above I've made sure I do my own thing sometimes when they visit so they can all be alone together.
Anyway you asked about first meetings..the best thing we did in the early stages was to play together on the wii .. it meant everyone could have fun in the same room but without being face to face struggling for conversation. Another early meeting - we went sledging, another - to the cinema. All times when you can be together but the actual need for awkward "chatting" is kept to a minimum.
Please don't feel upset or take it personally that DSS1 isn't thrilled to meet you - this is not meant to sound harsh but right now you are no-one of significance to him so why would he be thrilled? It's probably more that it's not of interest to him, or that he likes having his dad to himself when he sees him and wonders if that will change. By doing as others have suggested, you can set his mind at rest (with your actions) that you're not out to steal his dad away.
Also agree with previous posters (and I think with OP) about not trying to be a parent... the kids definitely wouldn't want me to and there's no way I could. As it is, I like them a lot, they seem to be comfortable with me - and that's all I am aiming for.
(I know lots of SM love their SK and I am not trying to denigrate this - just saying that's not how it is here, but that what is here, is fine for us).
I totally agree with a previous poster that the amount your DP will have the kids will make a difference to how hard it is. When we first met, the kids came once a month (geography made this necessary). Now it's EOW. So for all of us there was a gradual process of getting to know each other- I imagine if it had been anything else (needing a step-change from never having met to full-on contact all the time then we might not have made it this far.)
Hm this is long and maybe not that useful - sorry!
The last thing I would say is that it sounds like your DP has the courage of his convictions (saying to his DC - you may not be 100% happy about this, but I am, and so you can meet SniffAnd). Of course be very sensitive about the kids but as long as you are both reasonable adults then you can stand by decisions that will affect them. It's a good sign IMO that he is happy to be the adult - the one who decides what happens, and doesn't sound like a disney dad.
Best of luck!
Oop x-post while I was writing war and peace. Just to say what Nosey said (post at 16:27) is exactly right IMO.
I'd agree about meeting where you can do stuff. Perhaps outside somewhere. At a place they like going to. On one level it's like meeting anybody. You want to know a bit in advance about what they're interested in - sport, TV programmes, films, favourite subjects, teachers as school, books etc - so you have some ideas about good topics of conversation.
It takes time to get to know children and for children to know you. My own gut feeling would be a) if you don't like them much and b) if they don't like you much, think very very hard about whether this person really is 'the one'. I think it is very hard to make a relationship of this kind work unless there is some mutual 'liking' between the children and their Dad's girlfriend. It's not that everything has to be perfect and lovey-dovey. But some good intentions can go a long way.
Thanks, all. Well, I won't meet them for a little while yet but soon. I agree that it's a good sign that DP is happy to be "the adult" . And no, I wasn't remotely expecting either of them to be thrilled as such, just obviously it's a shame that DSS1 doesn't feel the same way as DSS2. But anyway, hopefully it'll be fine!
Quick question for those with stepchildren: what do you call your DP/DH when talking to the children? "John", "Your dad", or "Dad/Daddy"? E.g. ff it were my own child I'd be saying "Daddy says you went to the park with him yesterday" but what did you do when meeting your SC? Does the age of the child make a difference? (It's the tiny things!)
I think I've always referred to DH as "Your Dad" when talking to DSS, (6 when we met) I am sure it will work out fine for you. You sound like you are trying hard to do all the right things, and your DP sounds like he is on the same page. Good luck with it all.
I say 'your Dad' too if I'm talking about him. Think it would sound odd to kids if you said 'so what did you do with John today'.
I call DP by his name if I am talking to him infront of DSS's - but I think that is normal whether they are DSS's/or DS's.
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