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So, you’re in a relationship with someone who has children. You have been with them for a while and things are starting to get serious. They feel comfortable enough with you to introduce you to their kids. You’re excited but nervous because now you’re about to be judged by the most important people in his life, and they are children! You want to make a good impression but where do you begin?
When I met my stepson for the first time I was a nervous wreck. I wanted to make a good impression but at the same time wanted him to get to know me as a friend. His father and I decided that a movie at my place would be the perfect start. My mind was running in circles,” I’m just the girlfriend!” I thought, “What do I know about hosting a get together with a child?” Thankfully I did babysitting on the side, so I knew what kids of his age would like to do. I ordered pizza (kids love pizza and I didn’t have to cook). I chose the movie Cars 2 and pulled out the old Monopoly board game. The board game was for bonding and the movie was for cuddling two things that I think are very important. While playing monopoly, we talked about the child. He was the center of attention and he really enjoyed that. The board game we played was an awesome idea because I was able to get down on his eye level. Now that I have been with his father for four years, I am glad that I put him first. Before I was a part of his life his mother was the center of attention and it always had to be her way. But not every case is the same. Blending a family will take time and a lot of love and patience.
With that being said, my advice to anyone meeting the bonus kids for the first time would be to always be yourself. Before meeting them, I would suggest planning a whole day of something family orientated. Ask their mother/father if there is something special they are interested in. The child’s age, and what you have available to do where you live, will be your deciding factors. For example, if they are into animals, take them to a zoo. If they are into scouting, take them on a hike and pack a picnic. Find out what kind of foods they like and make them their favorite meal to help them feel welcome.
Once you have figured out your plans for the day and you take a deep breath, it’s time to go pick up the child! When meeting the bonus kids, you want to avoid saying or asking anything about the other parent. That will be the first question the other parent asks them when the child goes home excited about their day with you. Avoid that topic as much as possible. If the child brings it up, direct their attention somewhere else. This day is about them! It is like going on a first date, except it’s with the kids. Ask them questions such as, “What is your favorite movie?” “What are your interests?”
With all the step parents I have helped and whom have helped me, the best advice I can give someone meeting the bonus kids is:
1. Be yourself
2. Be patient and calm
3. Let them come to you
4. Don’t expect anything in return
5. Don’t take anything personally. For some, this is the beginning of a long road.
6. Let them get to know you
7. Be polite and respectful
8. Don’t ignore them or act like they don’t exist
(Remember it’s about the kids)
9. And most important of them all: HAVE FUN!!!