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The scary and unknown world of step-parenting - tips??

(18 Posts)
freakinthemorning Mon 18-Jul-16 14:03:14

I have met someone. We have been seeing each other for 3 months. We talk about the prospect of moving in together in the future, but both realise this would be a long way off. We are serious about each other and both think we could be happy together long term, although recognise its still early days.

Way too early for meeting each others DC (what is the norm??) but for the first time since I split with DC father 3 years ago, I am contemplating how things would work when two families merge.

This is all brand spanking new for both of us. Neither of us has met anyone since splitting with our ex's that we even considered introducing to our DC. Until now.

I know it is probably a long way off, but I want to be sensible and adult about the way we do things, moving forward. My DC is 4yo, his is 7yo.

Can anyone offer some words of wisdom? What to do, what not to do?? How to deal with the ex's?

If we get to the point of meeting DCs we really don't want to get it wrong!


Cosmo111 Mon 18-Jul-16 15:35:05

Take your time, you haven't even met the dc so there's no need to even consider the ex for the time being. Just get to know each other first, I would say 6 months for introductions then gently progress further. I would hold off even considering moving into together its early days you have no idea how the DC will react to you both and to each other. My DH said he knew it would make or break our relationship depending on how him and DS got on ( he was 2 at the time) as it stands they get on great. Meeting your DP child can have its challenges but trying to blend two families together is even harder.

freakinthemorning Mon 18-Jul-16 16:25:07

Thanks for replying. I know it's early days, I just tend to over think stuff and like to think ahead.

So is 6 months the 'norm' for introductions? A few people irl have said the sooner the better as if they don't get on you can nip it in the bud. I don't know. For me it's way too early now anyway but I've no idea what to do for the best.

I'm pondering this stuff anyway, even if it doesn't work out with this guy, I don't want to be alone forever and I'm wondering how it all works when there are dc involved

Cosmo111 Mon 18-Jul-16 16:33:08

I would say so considering both of you have DC. You currently in the honeymoon period, I think its important to establish how you are with each other before introductions are made. you don't want to make introductions then things don't work out. that being said theres pretty of challenges on these boards regarding blending families and DCs not getting on so be prepared that they may be so hard times ahead.

Lunar1 Mon 18-Jul-16 16:47:42

What do you mean about dealing with ex's? They are not one homogenous group of people to be dealt with. Your boyfriends ex is his child's mum not an obstacle to overcome.

freakinthemorning Mon 18-Jul-16 16:52:33

Lunar I seem to have rubbed you up the wrong way. I didn't mean to so I apologise if I have offended you in some way.

What I meant is, should we speak to / meet the mother / father before introducing our children? In my personal circumstances my ex can be difficult and I know wouldn't be over the moon with me seeing someone. Are there ways to deal with this?

freakinthemorning Mon 18-Jul-16 16:57:56

I am a mother too, and I don't see myself as an obstacle to overcome. I only want advice on what is the right thing to do by our children and not to step on anyone's toes.

LilacSpunkMonkey Mon 18-Jul-16 17:03:34

Does your child want a step-dad? Does his child want a step-mother? To me, these are the most important questions.

I've read too many stories on here of women resenting their step-children eventually because the partner doesn't parent properly. And too many stories from adult step-children who feel they were over-looked in the process of blending families.

I've been split from my ex for 3 years now. My children have told me that they don't want a step-dad. Who am I to bring someone into our family unit against their wishes? To bring other children into our family against their wishes? It shocks me quite often how children's feelings are ignored in the desire to be together.

Not saying you would do that, OP, but something to think about maybe.

Hellothereitsme Mon 18-Jul-16 17:07:51

I waited 6 months with current boyfriend. However previous BF I dated for a year and he didn't meet my kids as I couldn't see a future as logistics too difficult ie distance, boys living near both parents etc.

I don't think you need to meet Exs. My attitude is that I'm a parent and will always put my children first so my ex doesn't need to worry about the kids. However if my ex wanted to meet a new partner that was very involved with my children then it wouldn't worry me.

There is no rush. Spend time with your children and gradually you can introduce your friend. my youngest is 11. I'm not planning to live with anyone until he goes to university as I don't fancy an extended family.

freakinthemorning Mon 18-Jul-16 17:08:26

We have spoken about how our children might feel (possible jealousy, resentment etc) but have not spoken to our children as yet. You make a very good point. I'm not sure how much my dc would understand at 4 yo or how I would broach the subject. As it's a long way off before introducing, we have time to think about it. I will speak to my boyfriend about it.

freakinthemorning Mon 18-Jul-16 17:11:50

I was seeing someone for 8 months a while ago and never introduced dc because I knew deep down it wouldn't work long term between us. But for whatever reason I feel differently about my current boyfriend.

My boyfriend said if I wanted him to meet my ex before meeting my child, he would be happy to do that. I don't k ow what to think about that, whether it's a good idea or not

harderandharder2breathe Mon 18-Jul-16 17:22:18

I'm seeing someone with children, about eight months now, and I haven't met them or made more than vague plans. They've met their other parent's new partner as a "friend".

I didn't meet my step mum until my dad had moved to a different country to live with her, I met her and her kids in her house for a weekend! Luckily she was and is lovely and we get on well, but I do think my dad could've handled it better!

missybct Mon 18-Jul-16 17:23:05

Ensure you have boundaries in place.This is so so important. Especially if it's the first relationship both of you have had since you split up with your children's other parent.

Do you feel your partner interacts with his ex appropriately?
Do you feel you interact with your ex appropriately? Ask your partner this too.

From experience, sometimes it isn't until someone else comes on the scene that the parent realises that their interaction with an ex may not be very constructive. For example, I had a friend who met her now fiancée about 10 months after he split up with his son's mother - however, because nobody had said anything to him to the contrary (and he was desperate to see his son) the fiancée would regularly go to the mother's house and stay for hours at a time. On paper it looked perfectly amicable and in fact, very admirable, but the reality was that when my friend met his son (and son's mother) about 4 months later, the reality was that the mother was still deeply angry at my friends fiancée and even though he was round there to see his son, he'd often get dragged into snippy arguments in front of the little boy. It wasn't blazing, so nobody felt they were acting inappropriately, but my friend, as an outsider could see just how destructive them playing happy families was. Because her fiancee's ex wasn't being honest about how she was feeling, it would come out in waves and always ended up setting her fiancee back as he was trying hard to just be there for his son.

I don't know if that makes sense, but what I'm trying to say is that blending a family is about sticking to your principles and beliefs about parenthood but at the same time accepting that "fresh eyes" can sometimes help.

I'd say 3-6 months would be a normal time to meet a partners DC (really depends on the amount of time you spend together tbh) - I would suggest you guys seek to meet each others children first, before you try to get them to meet each other, especially if the children are only children and haven't had to experience vying for attention. Get to know the kids seperately, talk about your own kids, gauge whether the kids want to meet and go from there.

As for dealing with exes - there are no hard and fast rules. Some exes are fantastic, some are nightmares. Talk to each other about your relationship history - you can get an idea of the ex partners personality from conversation, but I think if your new partner is particularly disparaging or disrespectful toward his ex, you'll have a job on your hands because it indicates there is a lot of animosity either clearly out in the open (not good for the kids) or under the surface (not good for anyone). But that is where boundaries comes into force again - you aren't your partners therapist - if he's got a lot of issues, he needs to talk to someone other than you about it, whilst knowing you are there (I made this mistake, and it bit me in the arse!) - but vice versa, if you've got a lot of unresolved issues with your ex, seek advice on how to deal with your past before bringing it into a new relationship.

Basically - the past is the past. You both have children to other people than each other. You can't change that, and you have to contact them/be civil/work together. If either of you are hung up on the past, you need to resolve those issues first to give yourselves a better chance of working well into the future and establishing boundaries for yourselves and your children.

Sorry, I'm wittering away...blame the heat!

swingofthings Mon 18-Jul-16 17:57:14

My words of wisdom is let nature make it happen. I think things often go wrong when people over plan everything, so that when things don't go to plan, everything falls apart.

Don't rush into anything. There is no right or wrong time to move in together, the right time is when everybody is ready, that means everyone is prepared to make compromises, communicate effectively, share how they feel and more importantly listen to what others are telling them. It's not about right or wrong, it's about learning to understand how our actions impact on others.

Like any families, there will be ups and downs, moment when everything is wonderful, and others when you wonder why you've chosen that person, but if you are prepared to put energy and effort in making things work, rather than expecting things to work for you, then you can have a very happy family life.

swingofthings Mon 18-Jul-16 18:02:49

By the way, after 5 years on my own since separating with my ex, it took only a couple of weeks to know that the man I had met via the internet was the right one. He met my children (3 and 6 at the time) only a week later. It was very important to both of us as if it didn't start on a positive note, we both knew there was no point in taking things further.

However, we didn't move together for 18 months even though we spent all our weekends together and I'm glad we waited. Despite sharing so many values and beliefs, adjusting to each other's habits took quite some time and efforts and that was with me only having children.

freakinthemorning Mon 18-Jul-16 18:08:03

I have dated a few men since splitting with ex and it's the same with me, swing. Things feel different with this one and I don't have a doubt in my head about introducing him to dc. Just not sure about the logistics

Sorry will reply properly later

followTheyellowbrickRoad Thu 21-Jul-16 00:45:28

If you read the threads on here, one of the major problems that step parents face is differing parenting styles. I would meet his children first and see how he parents. If you can't agree on how to raise the children, your future together will be rocky.

What's his relationship ship with his ex like? If it's bitter and hate filed I really wouldn't like to put myself in the middle of it.

FayaMAMA Thu 21-Jul-16 01:06:32

I'm in a similar situation. I've been single since I found out I was pregnant with my daughters 4 years ago, bar the odd few-week-long dalliances - but a few months ago I started to date a guy who also has kids and things are going great! I know that I want to be with him, and he would love me to meet his kids - but I don't think I'm ready for him to meet mine so have been delaying it! My parents divorced amicably when i was about 10/11, and both took very different approaches to introducing my siblings and I to their new relationships and neither were particularly effective!

I'm trying not to rush into anything, and I suggest you don't either. There's nothing worse than finding yourself staying in a relationship longer than you should because you have an emotional attachment to his kids or yours have an attachment to him! I plan to meet his younger children's (4 and 5) mother before I meet the kids, and he is going to meet my girls' grandma (their uninvolved dad's mum) - this absolutely isn't necessary but it just makes me feel more comfortable that everyone involved is okay with the relationship.

Sorry I couldn't give you any more definitive advice, I'm still trying to navigate this situation myself!

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