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New partner with no experience of children

(12 Posts)
lahdeeda Wed 21-Sep-11 12:04:36

i recently introduced my 2 DDs (3 & 6) to my new partner (of 4 months) who has zero experience with children... he's also an only child so no experience of having to even share a space, besides one previous adult relationship.

He invited us to come to his house for the weekend and it became clear when in his house, he found it hard to relax with two screeching kids running about. He'd be fine for a certain amount of time, playing and cooking for them, then the next moment, he's be looking frustrated and behaving impatiently. Nothing overtly rude, just a clear sense of being out of his comfort zone. When we were all out the house on walks/park etc, everything seemed totally fine. Soon after going back to his house though, again he seemed to only manage bursts of time with them before wanting space away from them. We spoke about it a few times over the weekend and he was very honest- that he found it difficult to adapt as he was so used to everything being a certain way and found it hard to remain patient. He asked me to be patient with him and allow him time to get used to things being different. At one point i got upset because he was snippy with the kids banging about after their bath as it felt like a direct criticism of them just being regular kids and i didn't want them to feel unwelcome. I felt hugely emotional about it as my ex has been behaving badly, using them against me, refusing to look after them so i can work etc. I didn't want them to feel in any way rejected by my new partner too so when i saw him upset with their noise, I felt incredibly protective.

Overall the kids really like him, especially my oldest daughter who he seemed to bond with very easily. he's fun and caring but set in his ways/quite particular and anal about cleanliness etc and i worry he won't manage to adapt and be more flexible about kids being messy/loud and demanding at times.

I wouldn't want to put my kids in a situation where they felt they were walking on eggshells so I'm not sure if maybe he's just not ready for a whole weekend of them and perhaps a more gradual approach might be better, although the weekend was his idea.

He says he feels positive that given time, he can adjust to the point where he's comfy with everything but is worried I'm feeling disappointed in him. I suppose I was a bit disappointed although I understood where he was coming from.... I'm one of 3 siblings and obviously have been a parent for 6 years so it's hard to put myself in his position.

any advice would be welcome.

passionsrunhigh Wed 21-Sep-11 13:20:33

Of course you shoulf give him time! he sounds genuinely interested. How old is he though? I would give it a good year. there is no real rush, is there - unless you are planning to have more children.
He should have a part of the house/a room to himself, if and when you live together, so he can always retreat, it's very reasonable. Will be Easier to live together, than being invited for weekends as then he has to entertain as a host all the time.
But do ask him not to snap, he has to learn to control it. and explain to kids that they are guests there, and as in any guest situation should ask before they take something and to play and run, but not to shout too much - they wouldn't in public would they, it's useful for them too to learn not to be too noisy as they will be told off by all sorts of people imo.

passionsrunhigh Wed 21-Sep-11 13:22:43

I meant it's fine of course to play and run around, but keep noise down a bit.

buzzskillington Wed 21-Sep-11 13:36:39

I don't think it will be easier to live together shock. The hard bit is the daily grind.

I would take it very slowly and if he remains tense around them, then getting more serious with him has to go off the table. That he can't be affable and enjoy the hurly burly for just a weekend is worrying. He sounds pretty set in his ways and he may not be able to change - you can't risk your children's happiness on him developing a different personality.

lahdeeda Wed 21-Sep-11 14:08:36

He seemed to be tense only in his own space, completely affable in my house and when outdoors so I think it's mainly not being used to sharing his space, clearly being used to only adult company there.

We hadn't planned the weekend at his, it was his idea as my ex was playing games with withdrawing contact with kids and he thought it'd be good for the 3 of us to get away as ex lives round the corner.... so the intention was good but in hindsight, it was a bit of a flood of exposure to the kids when really there's should only have been a slow trickle.

Maybe my expectations were unrealistic, even though he was very honest about having no experience and warning me he'd make mistakes so to try to be patient with him. Obviously i said i would but i found it hard to deal with when he showed a lack of patience with them, seemed like double standards.

I'm in no rush to move in together so that's not even a consideration just now, it's early days. Thanks for all the advice so far guys.

eslteacher Wed 21-Sep-11 20:10:11

As someone who's been in a similar situation myself, but as the only-child, no-experience-with-kids girlfriend of a guy who had a young son, I can definitely identify with what your boyfriend is going through.

Unfortunately I don't think there are a lot of easy answers. Children can be very annoying, that's the simple truth of it. When you're used to interacting with rational adults, it's a shock to suddenly find yourself having communicate with children, who don't always respond to rationality or take other people's feelings into account, or abide by "normal" adult types of behaviour. You say that he got snippy, but you felt they were just being regular kids - probably very true, but he's probably still judging them by adult standards of politeness and behaviour, since that's what he's used to. And you can end up quite confused as to whether a child is being "naughty" and should be being disciplined, or whether they are just behaving like a normal child. Which can lead to snippiness, with the kids for being annoying and getting away with it, and with their parent for not "doing something about it".

He's probably also starting to realise quite what being with a woman who has children actually means. It's one thing to think you can accept sharing your life with someone else's children when said children are just an abstract notion and you're busy falling in love. But by the time you actually meet them and start to realise the reality of it all, you've probably already fallen pretty hard and it can start to feel a bit like an impossible trap that you never asked for and can't quite work out how you got into.

But this all sounds very pessimistic, and also a lot like I am totally projecting my own experiences onto your new partner, which might not be very fair. Except to say that two years on from meeting my "stepchild" we do actually have a very good relationship even though it is challenging for me at times. I have no desire to run away from it all, and am re-educating myself in the ways of children and their strange ways. I'd recommend that you and your partner discuss some ground rules very early on - especially in terms of the "rules" you expect them to stick to, what behaviour is acceptable and is not, and how you will handle the discipline element. And I definitely think it's essential that you acknowledge his need for some me-time as well.

Good luck!

FabbyChic Wed 21-Sep-11 21:46:52

Too much too soon, he needs to be introduced to the kids slowly, an hour at a time. He should be staying at your home not you at his to start with so he can see how they are at home.

CalamityKate Thu 22-Sep-11 01:05:38

I think that a) Four months into a relationship is FAR too early to start introducing him to your children and b) A whole weekend was far too much.

saffronwblue Thu 22-Sep-11 01:22:12

I would scale right back and organise some short outings or visits at your place, A whole weekend in his house is huge if he has always had control over his own space.

Lemonylemon Thu 22-Sep-11 09:29:23

I've been in the same situation myself. My OH was 46 when we met. My DS was 9. For quite a while, contact between them was limited to a couple of hours at a time, building up to a weekend further down the line. It did take the three of us quite some time to get used to things, but it did settle down in the end.....

RumourOfAHurricane Thu 22-Sep-11 09:45:22

Message withdrawn

moominliz Thu 22-Sep-11 12:08:36

I have the same experinence as Riverboat. I'm the partner of a man who has 3 children yet I have none (expecting our 1st at the moment but thats beside the point!).

The abstract idea of a partner with children is very different to the reality. Don't forget you have an unparalled bond with your children and have had years to get used to their quirks, behaviour,etc. whereas your partner has only had a few month.

It takes a lot of time and effort to get things right but it can be done. My partner and I have been together for 2 and a half years and I still find things difficult on occasion.

However I do think its a bit too soon to be spending a weekend altogether after 4 months but to be honest I think when it comes to 'step' parenting just stick with whatever works best for all of you.

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