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Introductions to DSC's

(22 Posts)
CookieDoughKid Tue 14-May-13 23:51:06

My partner will have been separated and divorced from his ex for 2 years. We plan to introduce me to his kids at some point in the future. He has 4 DCs (eldest is 15, youngest is 8). We met after they divorced so I am not 'another woman' or from an affair. I do not know his ex (we've never met and she does not know about me currently).

My partner and I are committed to each other and intend to marry and build a life together. We are taking things very slowly and considerately. I also have children but much younger and we have had many discussions already on parenting/house rules/expectations...but it's difficult as can't really predict the future reactions.

His DCs are coming to terms with their parent's separation and the parents seem to be handling it amicably in front of the children. However, there are some things I've seen, mentioned from my partner (and also from his children) that their RL mother is suffering from depression and not coping well ie. crying in front of the children, ready meals in the evening, not getting up or dressed in the mornings etc. This may be of no concern but it is something I'm wary about as I don't want to put pressure on his children more than necessary. She does not work and takes care of the children (they live with her).

The children seem to be good children and as well adjusted as they can be considering the breakup. They are doing well at school.

Do you have any tips for introductions to his step children? Any lessons learned? Any advice? Again, there is no rush but we are thinking ahead and trying to be considerate of everyone. Thanks for reading.

CookieDoughKid Tue 14-May-13 23:53:15

Just to add putting ready meals on in the evening etc is no way indicative of depression I know (I love a good pizza on a Friday!) but assuming the DSC's is suffering from depression - we want to proceed sensitively.

CookieDoughKid Tue 14-May-13 23:54:10

Aghhh.. I meant to say assuming the DSC's MUM is suffering from depression - we want to proceed sensitively.

purpleroses Wed 15-May-13 08:44:24

I'd take it slowly - and step back a bit from big plans to marry in the future for now - you really do need to see how you find it with the kids first (assuming he has them fairly regularly?) ie they don't want to be meeting you as "future stepmum", just as "Dad's new girlfriend" for now, and take it from there.

My DP also has 4 DCs, similar ages to yours (though a little younger when I first met them). The thing that I still remember vividly about first meeting them was how overwhelming it was. 4 kids is such a big and strong family dynamic. The things they talked about, what they liked to do at the weekends, ways of interacting, and all talking over each other made me sharply aware that this was a big and pre-existing family and I was on the outside. It took a while to stop feeling like that, and there were a few times early on when I was quite unsure if I could ever feel at home with them all.

The other thing I'd say with 4 in that sort of age range is not to expect them all to react similarly. DP's DC's reactions ranged from delight and "when can I go and play at her house?" to outright hostility, refusal to be in the same room as me, and calling me an evil witch behind my back shock. It's quite hard to strike the right pace for relationships to develop with the DCS when they're enthusiasm is so varied. I've also found it much easier to relate to the younger ones as a parent-like figure. Teenagers are much harder.

Re the ex - that sounds hard. And I think you're right that she's probably not going to welcome finding out that her ex has a new partner, even if she is over the split herself. Does your DP know any of her friends that he can ask to keep an eye on her? The only other thing I can think is, as I've said above, keep it to "dad's new girlfriend" and don't have the DCs going back to their mum saying anything about plans for you to live with them or anything, and she'll have time to get used to things a bit more gradually. And be sensitive early on about doing anything too "mumsy" with them - eg baking, clothes shopping, etc as some mums will feel threatened by that. You're safer sticking to whatever activities your DP already does with his DCs.

purpleroses Wed 15-May-13 08:45:13

they're = their blush

FrauMoose Wed 15-May-13 08:54:35

I wanted to meet my partner's children very soon after we got together. He was equally keen for me to meet them. I think in these circumstances it is very much a package deal. I also wanted to be able to see at first hand what sort of a father he was.

So I think there are disadvantages in being 'sensitive', 'slow', considerate etc. Particularly if you are making long-term plans it could seem like deceiving the children not to let them know that you and their father are close.

Also the plans are inevitable somewhat theoretical if the children - a fairly key component - have no idea what sort of a person you are and vice versa.

Fantaforever Wed 15-May-13 13:08:13

Take things slowly, slowly slowly. Do not rush, for all of your sakes. Can you not leave the meeting for a bit longer yet? If their Mother is depressed and a bit unstable at the moment it could be very bad timing and they could end up feeling very guilty and responsible if she's upset when she finds out about you/finds out they are meeting you.
I didn't meet my DHs kids for quite a long time (about a year). We waited until his ex had a new partner until I met them. I can't speak for them but I think it made them feel more happy and relaxed about it all because Mum was happy (they were 6 and 9 at the time).

purpleroses Wed 15-May-13 13:53:12

I think if the OP is already making plans for marriage, then it's probably if anything over-time to meet the DCs! You're making plans for the rest of your lives together, but there's people who are a huge part of your DP's life that you've not met yet. And if their mum doesn't know you exist, does that mean that the DCs don't either? I think I'd feel a bit deceitful to my DCs to be making plans to marry someone that they don't even know exists. High time for your DP to start connecting up the bits of his life a bit more.

Would be nice if his ex has a new partner first, but you could be waiting ten years for that.

Best if she hears if from the DCs, but on as casual a basis as possible. Probably best she hears "dad's got a GF" first, and then later hears that they've met you briefly, then only a good while later that you're planning to move in together. No one likes a bombshell but finding out that your ex has a new love intest shouldn't come as too much of a huge surprise two years after splitting.

Fantaforever Wed 15-May-13 15:44:32

Yes, purple, have re-read the post and now see it's been two years. I think Purple's right, OP. It's time your DP should start the process of introducing you but gradually. Out of interest, has your DP met your own DC? If so, how has that been?

CookieDoughKid Wed 15-May-13 17:13:55

Thanks everyone for your contributions. Really appreciate it.
purpleroses - Agree, we do feel a bit deceitful but not a lot we can do about that. But not so guilty like we are having an affair (!). I guess we are just very mindful.
Fantaforever My DC's are much younger (under 5) and they have only ever known their mummy and daddy separate (we were never married and separated very early on). I have quite an honest relationship with DCs and they know my DP as a 'DP' or 'boyfriend'. It was a very easy introduction and my current DP gets on extremely well. But I guess thats due to their age and that they don't have any preconceptions or another family life to compare to.

Actually, we would love that my DP's ex moves on and finds a new partner but in the current state that she is in - I think that is quite some time away. She seems to be a nice woman even though I have never met here, atttractive and would be no short of 'dates'. Whereas for us, we feel we have found our soul mates and I think that will be quite a shock for our respective partners...no matter how long we've been separated? Wouldn't you agree?

mumandboys123 Wed 15-May-13 19:23:48

why? because every ex is unable to be happy that their ex has been able to 'move on'? because despite feeling sad and somehow unable to get life in the place that you might want it to be, you're not able to accept that the breakdown of a relationship was for the best?

I personally find your last post condescending, although I appreciate you probably didn't mean it like that. If you've never met her and have never met her children, you can't possibly have a real grip on 'the current state she is in'.

Oh, and are only physically attractive people likely to get 'dates'? I know plenty of not particularly attractive people, middle-aged spread setting in, that kind of thing, who have no shortage of quality friendships, dates, and relationships even if not all of them last forever. It doesn't make us unhappy, unable to move on, 'bitter' or anything else negative. 'Happy ever after' and 'soulmates' isn't obligatory, is it? I love my quality of life - total financial independence, quality time with my children without having to parent an extra 'child', beautiful 'work in progress' home, very secure knowledge of exactly who my friends are due to the way my marriage broke down, good circle of people I go out with when children are with dad, far more freedom than I had when married....none of that stops the occassional weep about the way I was treated (and continue to be treated) by someone who was supposed to love me. Am I 'in a state'?!

Seriously, I admire your desire to tread carefully when you are aware that perhaps your existence will cause problems. However, if you've kept it quiet as long as it takes to be marrying, I would personally be more insulted that I was unaware of your existence and what it may mean for my children. Whatever my feelings, children come first and need to be supported and cared for - and that includes us all having to get used to new partners.

elliebellys Wed 15-May-13 21:47:55

I hate the way people think that tl have moved on is to get a new fella.mumnboys your post was spot on.

CookieDoughKid Thu 16-May-13 21:29:16

mumsandboys123 thank you for your perspective. Its hard to guage my DP ex as I've never met Her. She may be mature and strong for their kids and deal with my news on the scene amicably but from indications so far, it doesn't seem everything is well. Things like. Absences from school where the teacher has had to notify my DP even of poor attendance record, house in an incomprehensible state, dirt and mess everywhere, where my DP can't find anything fresh in their fridge, meals not cooked, not getting out of bed... Maybe nothing at all...I've not met her. Maybe that's what she's like and she is ok and on top of it all . I don't know..and my DP resents talking to her (for other reasons I won't go into).

I for one have lived alone with my DCs for a long time and I work full time to pay for our roof over our heads etc so I'm totally with you on the spirit of independence and the benefits that bring.

We will proceed slowly I think. I'm not here to be their mum I know, but I do want them to understand their father has met someone who will take care of him for the rest of his life and they need to accept (eventually) we are committed.

Please excuse poor grammar as I'm typing on a mobile.

CookieDoughKid Thu 16-May-13 21:33:48

purpleroses .. where are you today with your DSC? Do u have a good relationship with all 4? Is there still tension? In particular, what was it that helped with the child who had issues with you who displayed outright hostility? Thank you.

purpleroses Thu 16-May-13 22:01:25

It's been nearly 3 years since I first met the DSC now, and we moved in last summer. My relationship with them all is still very different. The younger two are great - seem to like having me around and get on well with my DCs too. I find it comes very naturally to treat them like a parent (probably because my own are similar ages) and have no difficulties in disciplining them if necessary. DSD2 is very happy to come out with just me to the shops or whatever and enjoys the female company I think.

DSC2 was the difficult one at first. It bothered me a lot for a while but DP felt he would come round in time, and I felt it best to trust his judgement of his child. He gave him time but was also quite strict on some things. DSC2 was forced to sit in my company for meals, etc. He was then on one occasion humiliated by his younger brother who decided to tell me all the things he'd been saying behind my back. It was an excruciating moment but I think I laughed it off quite well, and DSC2 was embarrassed I think (he was about 11/12 at the time). After that he did seem to give up on his silent protest so we had a chance to get to know each other. I get on fine with him now and he's fine about me being around. He's just a child that finds any change very difficult, and I'm learning to live with that. Once he was at least OK with me being around, it was easier to become closer to the younger two without feeling I was making it even harder for him.

DSC1 is nearly 16 and firmly of the view that she doesn't need any parents in her life of any description. I get on fine with her, but it's not a parent-child type relationship. I leave that to my DP. So it's still very different with all four of them.

But I have been lucky that my DP's ex has not shown any objection to the relationship. That does make things much easier - so it may be well worth trying to do things gently for her sake, even if the DSC could cope with a much faster pace of getting to know you.

One other thing though - DP and I each got to know each other's kids before we introduced the kids to each other. I think they all found it a bit odd that their parent already had a relationship with these other children who they didn't know. You might want to make sure your own kids are out of the way when you first meet your DP's kids, as they may feel a bit put out if yours are clearly fond of him. Let them meet on a different occasion, and possibly get your DP to keep a bit to the sidelines when they do (so yours don't jump all over him or something) Good luck

mumandboys123 Thu 16-May-13 23:13:53

surely your partner knows what she was like when they were together and whether or not she has always had a problem getting out of bed, with being untidy etc. or whether this is a 'new' thing? I'm untidy. Very untidy. I'm aware of it and have my limits. But my limits would make a tidy person wince, I'm sure! Different standards are difficult to navigate in these situations.... what help does she have in terms of family and friends?

And why is your partner rummaging in her fridge?! If I read that at face value, it sounds like he's totally in control of her environment and that really isn't good, particularly if she's struggling. There is no way my ex gets a toe over my threshold, let alone the opportunity to note the contents of my cupboards!

elliebellys Thu 16-May-13 23:56:14

Mumnboys are you me.your house sounds just like mine:-). Op your dp is seriously overstepping by snooping around someone elses house,would he or you like that in your houses.?.you have no way of knowing any of this really its just hearsay from your dp,who isnt really goin to want to paint her in a good light.hold back on assumptions till you actually meet the family.

parttimer79 Fri 17-May-13 10:36:03

Softly softly can only work for so long. If you have long terms plans to be together it is important for you both to meet each others DCs. DP and I waited til we had been together about a year and were sure we wanted a long term future.
When I met DPs DCs it was an neutral ground doing activities they already did with their Dad.
We were always honest about the fact I was a girlfriend because even though they are only young it seemed patronising to lie.

Now I get on well with them, and have a kind of Auntie role that I have with many of my close friends children. They do not live with DP and I or even stay over yet (another thread altogether!!) and I think that makes a difference.

Although I don't agree with some of Mumandboys posts here i do agree that it is not for your and your DP to wait and see if his Ex has moved on. As long as the DCs have a good relationship with both parents and they can co-parent relatively amicably then your concern with the situation can end there - trust me all other roads lead to madness!

ladydeedy Fri 17-May-13 16:26:12

I dont think you should allow the state of the DM's mental health to dictate when and how you are introduced to your DP's kids. It's been 2 years since they split - that's a long time in a child's life. If you and he are solid, and it sounds like you are, then you should be honest with all the kids involved and get it out in the open asap.
Alternatively, seriously, how long would you wait for? For Mum to get treatment for her depression? In my own case, DH's ex has been depressed from the very start (12 years ago), refused treatment and has not moved on (despite being the one who ended the relationship by having a shortlived affair). She continues to be crying and depressed and without a partner but does manage to hold down a job. She has caused us multiple problems over the years but we do not allow her to affect our happiness. Do not saddle yourself with being in this limbo state because you are fearful of her reaction. It may not even make any difference to her for all you know.

Concreteblonde Fri 17-May-13 20:50:01

What steps is your partner taking to address these very serious concerns about the childrens welfare ? Presumably he is seeking help through school/GP/social services and has taken legal advice about residency for the children ?

mumandboys123 Fri 17-May-13 22:11:12

I still don't get the suggestion that people 'without partners' are automatically unhappy? or depressed? why?!

ladydeedy Tue 21-May-13 21:22:06

mumandboys, it's nothing to do with a generalisation - just saying in our own case that the mother has been diagnosed with depression many years ago and refused treatment. She has happened to have a number of very short-lived relationships over that time, presumably in part due to the fact that she is extremely volatile and unstable, which is why one of her children chose to stop living with her.

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