You’ve met, things are going swimmingly and your date nights have been neatly scheduled on the kid-free occasions which are a feature of modern shared-custody arrangements. The next major milestone in the relationship? Meeting your partner’s children.
Here are five tips for starting down the path to Brady Bunch style harmony:
Choose your timing
Don’t rush into meeting the kids. If you are going to insert yourself in the life of children, you should be fairly sure that the relationship has progressed beyond something fleeting. It’s now wider than just how you and your partner feel about each other, there are small hearts and minds involved. If you can see yourself still being around in a year’s time then go for it. If you haven’t taken your
profile off the online dating site and you aren’t willing to declare it a relationship to YOUR nearest and dearest, wait a bit longer.
Make the ‘date’ a short one
As fabulous, funny and entertaining as you are, from a child’s perspective you are probably best dished out in small doses. Choose a short window to meet for the first time so that neither you nor they run out of conversation or enthusiasm.
Choose a child-friendly venue
It’s likely that none of your previous date venues apply here. If you are meeting over a meal, then somewhere kid-friendly with something to entertain them while they are not eating is great. It will allow you to avoid any awkward silences between the ordering and arrival of the kids’ meals. If the kids can skip off to a play area during that lull, you’ll be able to take a breath and compare notes with your partner on whether all is going well.
Go for familiar but neutral territory
Get your partner to choose a place that is familiar to the kids, so they know where they are headed and what’s in store. It is probably slightly less awkward to meet at an external venue. Arriving on their doorstep, tearing the children away from their favourite show on Cartoon Network, and them having to parade for you Von Trapp-style will not win you any favour with them. It goes without saying it is not good form for their first introduction to you to be in their kitchen one morning while you are wearing one of their Dad’s T-shirts, and whipping up pancakes.
Steer clear of the ex
Ensure that the meeting takes place a world away from where the other parent might be. This is likely to preclude sporting events and school functions, even if the ex isn’t planning to attend. No need for any unnecessary drama, regardless of how amicable the split may have been.
Above all – relax. Keep it light and casual and you’ll tick off this box and keep moving forward.