Dating Someone With Children - Part 2
In my last column I covered some important thoughts about when you first start dating someone with a child or children. Now it’s time for some practical tips to help make your new relationship a success!
Top tips for dating a parent -
* Take dating slowly - Don't expect to plunge into this complex situation. Although parents are individuals in their own right, they obviously have lots to think about when first dating. There is no need to rush something that could be worth taking slowly.
This includes not expecting to see him/her frequently at first. A parent has less time for dating and expecting them to make more time for you is a big pressure.
*A question of sex - When it comes to sex it can become tricky and you have to be inventive. At their place you’ll need to wait until the children are in bed. Children are very good at interrupting things so you should both talk about how to handle it if a child gets up, wanting a glass of water or something, and it’s obvious you’re there very late at night.
*Meet the children - Undoubtedly they – as the parent – will guide when this happens but it's savvy of you to suggest keeping it low-key. Don't expect, for instance, to spend a whole Saturday when you first meet their child/children. Suggest meeting somewhere casual, e.g for an ice cream is a great starting point. If it’s going well you can continue to the park or have a meal. If it’s a bit awkward the first time then keeping it to having a treat is helpful.
*Be confident - I personally experienced lots of anxiety becoming a step-mum in my first marriage, especially as I was very young. I combated that by expecting the best to happen for all of us. I decided not to buy into any negative stepmother myths. Keeping positive and confident definitely helped my stepsons when they felt unsure of things.
* Respect their past – They’ll have their ways of doing things, especially with their children! Instead of sweeping in and trying to create everything from scratch, respect the things they enjoy doing. Demonstrate that you're coming along for the ride - you're not trying to be the driver.
If you also have children –
If you both have children this can be a challenging juggling act.
*Protective parents - It's natural for you both to be protective of your children. If there are rows between your children it's hard to resist defending your child’s side. Resist! Early on you two should form ‘Team Adults’ presenting an excellent example of not taking sides but trying to ensure all are treated fairly.
*Parental love doesn't happen overnight - You love your child/children, they love theirs - but loving each other's takes time. Think of how a friendship grows - that's what you can expect from your feelings for your stepchildren-to-be.
*Regular relationship MOT - This might seem a challenge too far but it can work wonders for everyone to sit around the dinner table and check how they're all feeling. If you encourage a supportive atmosphere, it can have enormous benefits.
* The family that plays together - It helps you to bond by finding a new activity to do together. From swimming to cycling, or whatever you all enjoy, start forming a couple new traditions.
Good luck and happy dating, Pam x
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