Newish relationship. Not met the children yet. Very nervous. Any advice?!

(39 Posts)
SniffAndMoomintroll Thu 14-Nov-13 19:56:28

Just that, really. confused

Boyfriend has two sons, 8 and 5. He is a lot older than me. I have no children (and zero experience of children). I'm also quite awkward around them - well-intentioned, but very shy with kids. I don't really know how to interact with children, tbh, and because I know this it makes me even more nervous!

I wasn't expecting this situation - I just didn't think I would meet someone with existing children. I really do want to get it right, but I'm terrified of getting it wrong. Does anyone have any advice, or just willing to hold my hand?

noseymcposey Wed 20-Nov-13 12:24:52

I say 'your Dad' too if I'm talking about him. Think it would sound odd to kids if you said 'so what did you do with John today'.

I call DP by his name if I am talking to him infront of DSS's - but I think that is normal whether they are DSS's/or DS's.

Aeroaddict Wed 20-Nov-13 09:43:15

I think I've always referred to DH as "Your Dad" when talking to DSS, (6 when we met) I am sure it will work out fine for you. You sound like you are trying hard to do all the right things, and your DP sounds like he is on the same page. Good luck with it all.

SniffAndMoomintroll Wed 20-Nov-13 09:32:34

Thanks, all. Well, I won't meet them for a little while yet but soon. I agree that it's a good sign that DP is happy to be "the adult" . And no, I wasn't remotely expecting either of them to be thrilled as such, just obviously it's a shame that DSS1 doesn't feel the same way as DSS2. But anyway, hopefully it'll be fine!

Quick question for those with stepchildren: what do you call your DP/DH when talking to the children? "John", "Your dad", or "Dad/Daddy"? E.g. ff it were my own child I'd be saying "Daddy says you went to the park with him yesterday" but what did you do when meeting your SC? Does the age of the child make a difference? (It's the tiny things!)

FrauMoose Tue 19-Nov-13 11:35:55

I'd agree about meeting where you can do stuff. Perhaps outside somewhere. At a place they like going to. On one level it's like meeting anybody. You want to know a bit in advance about what they're interested in - sport, TV programmes, films, favourite subjects, teachers as school, books etc - so you have some ideas about good topics of conversation.

It takes time to get to know children and for children to know you. My own gut feeling would be a) if you don't like them much and b) if they don't like you much, think very very hard about whether this person really is 'the one'. I think it is very hard to make a relationship of this kind work unless there is some mutual 'liking' between the children and their Dad's girlfriend. It's not that everything has to be perfect and lovey-dovey. But some good intentions can go a long way.

benid Mon 18-Nov-13 16:31:08

Oop x-post while I was writing war and peace. Just to say what Nosey said (post at 16:27) is exactly right IMO.

benid Mon 18-Nov-13 16:29:45

Good luck! I was also in same position as you and was introduced after 2 months.. we didn't know if we would be together forever but that kind of helped. I guess others would disagree but it meant there was no kind of big fanfare saying "meet your future stepmum" on our first meeting... we didn't pretend I was just a friend either but I did try to be sensitive.

For instance when we went out I made sure I didn't hog the seat next to DP (now DH) for instance, or try and push myself forward too much. I'm still conscious of this actually as I'm aware I have their dad to myself all the time they aren't here. As mentioned above I've made sure I do my own thing sometimes when they visit so they can all be alone together.

Anyway you asked about first meetings..the best thing we did in the early stages was to play together on the wii .. it meant everyone could have fun in the same room but without being face to face struggling for conversation. Another early meeting - we went sledging, another - to the cinema. All times when you can be together but the actual need for awkward "chatting" is kept to a minimum.

Please don't feel upset or take it personally that DSS1 isn't thrilled to meet you - this is not meant to sound harsh but right now you are no-one of significance to him so why would he be thrilled? It's probably more that it's not of interest to him, or that he likes having his dad to himself when he sees him and wonders if that will change. By doing as others have suggested, you can set his mind at rest (with your actions) that you're not out to steal his dad away.

Also agree with previous posters (and I think with OP) about not trying to be a parent... the kids definitely wouldn't want me to and there's no way I could. As it is, I like them a lot, they seem to be comfortable with me - and that's all I am aiming for.

(I know lots of SM love their SK and I am not trying to denigrate this - just saying that's not how it is here, but that what is here, is fine for us).

I totally agree with a previous poster that the amount your DP will have the kids will make a difference to how hard it is. When we first met, the kids came once a month (geography made this necessary). Now it's EOW. So for all of us there was a gradual process of getting to know each other- I imagine if it had been anything else (needing a step-change from never having met to full-on contact all the time then we might not have made it this far.)

Hm this is long and maybe not that useful - sorry!

The last thing I would say is that it sounds like your DP has the courage of his convictions (saying to his DC - you may not be 100% happy about this, but I am, and so you can meet SniffAnd). Of course be very sensitive about the kids but as long as you are both reasonable adults then you can stand by decisions that will affect them. It's a good sign IMO that he is happy to be the adult - the one who decides what happens, and doesn't sound like a disney dad.

Best of luck!

noseymcposey Mon 18-Nov-13 16:27:42

Activity centre sounds good! That's ok if you're shy, just smile! You don't have to try and 'make them like you'. Most of the work will be for your DP to do to be honest as he has the relationship with them. You just need to sit there and 'look friendly', grin I think at the beginning they will prefer you to be more in the background so shy is probably not a bad thing. I found it really difficult to talk to DS's at the beginning as had nothing in common with boys of that age. I still have no clue what 12/9 year old boys like to talk about. I did a lot of 'ooh I like this one' to any song that DSS1 played. I can remember the tumbleweed.... Not trying to make you feel nervous, just trying to point out that even if it feels awkward sometimes, which it might do that is absolutely fine! If you are going to be a big part of their father's life you have plenty of time to get to know them.

Obviously everything I say is only based on my own experiences and what my DSS's are like. But it can be lovely you know, to have two new people in your life who you will really come to care about smile

SniffAndMoomintroll Mon 18-Nov-13 16:11:05

Normal, friendly, nice, don't try too hard...got it. My problem will probably be that I'm very shy - if I know someone likes me then I can basically chat away no problem, but that's adults: I'm nervous chatting to children at the best of times. And this is quite clearly not going to be the best of times, because he doesn't want to like me!

I think we're going to go to an activity centre, so that the children can play and sort of get used to the idea of my being there too. DP doesn't actually know what DSS1 will be like when we meet, he says - I think he's trying to reassure me that if DSS1 acts up then it won't be "my fault", but he isn't too sure what to anticipate.

noseymcposey Mon 18-Nov-13 15:53:55

Do you know what you are going to do for your first meeting? Was thinking if you went round to their Dad's for an afternoon/evening when they are there for the weekend ,it might be nice as it's in their comfort zone. So you could visit, hang out for a bit and then go again and then it all feels like it's on a footing where they are quite secure?

Maybe not for a first visit, but as you get to know them things like playing board games/watching films together were good ways for us to spend time together. Neither DSS's are big talkers so it's a good way where we can all connect and gives us something specific to talk about. Even now they are nearly 18 and 15 they still like playing games with us.

riverboat Mon 18-Nov-13 15:41:56

Sniff - good advice from nosey. If DSS1 is sulky or detached when you meet him, I'd say don't try too hard to win him over. Just be normally friendly and nice but let him have his own space. Show him you aren't intending to mother him or take his dad away, and hopefully he will come round naturally over time.

Kids are contrary at that age anyway, but can adapt to new things quickly. Every couple of months DSS solemnly announces that he does / doesn't want DP and I to have a baby for X, Y, Z reasons. He can't make his mind up, it keeps changing. We're not even planning a baby in the near future and have told him, but that doesn't stop him having strong yet ever-changing feelings on it...

noseymcposey Mon 18-Nov-13 15:36:38

It's most likely a bit of resistance to change. FWIW DSS1 was also not very keen when we told them I was pregnant (some years after meeting them I might add!) And he now dotes on his baby brother. Some people are just suspicious of things changing incase it's for the worse.

As long as they don't feel like you are taking their Dad away etc etc (i.e. be led by them/DP when you meet them) and make sure that they come first. So no cancelling when DP would normally see them for things you are doing together... obvious things like that. I really think in your situation it will be fine! They have no reason not to like you! DSS1's lack of enthusiasm is probably a lot to do with the sort of nerves you are feeling too - the thought of someone new coming in to your life is very daunting - rather than an actual aversion to his Dad having a gf.

Actually it reminds me, when DP and I moved in together for a while DSS1 came to us every week instead of every other weekend. DP was happier and that reflected in his relationships with his children. I'm sure there are times when the DSS's don't 'like' me same as sometimes they do my head in but overall if you are making their Dad happy and are decent person IT WILL ALL BE FINE!! You may be not be best buddies but they probably won't rub your toothbrush in the soap either smile smile

Good Luck OP I can well remember how daunting it was at the beginning!

SniffAndMoomintroll Mon 18-Nov-13 15:26:48

Thanks, nosey. Your second para has cheered me up a bit... I hope it is just the idea, and not the reality. In answer to your earlier question, no DP hasn't introduced anyone to them before so it is something new from that point of view. I had hoped that the fact of my not being the first "outside" figure (because they have a stepdad) might make it easier, but I guess DSS1 would have been very small when his mum remarried.

noseymcposey Mon 18-Nov-13 15:07:32

I think now he's told them it's a good idea to meet them so they can see that you are quite normal and nice and not have a chance to build you up as some unknown entity!

Don't take it to heart that DSS1 wasn't happy. When I met the DS's, DSS1 sat sulking in the back of the car with his sunglasses on (in october) and could barely get a word out of him. By the end of the weekend he was asking when we could all go away together again. I am a distinctly average step mum who is a bit rubbish with children so this is not because I was so amazing and won him over! I think the idea of it was just worse than the reality.

Please don't be put off by DSS1 not being keen. He could well change his mind when he meets you!

SniffAndMoomintroll Mon 18-Nov-13 15:00:33

Oh dear. DP has apparently gone ahead and told them. DSS2 (will call them DSS1/DSS2 for short, as typing "DP's eldest child" and "DP's second child" seems a bit laborious, even though they're obviously not my stepchildren at the moment...) was apparently completely fine about it, very unfazed. DSS1 was, however, not. sad I know it's completely understandable, but I am really sad. Obviously not saying this to DP, as I don't want to upset him. I said I'd be happy to wait to meet the children for as long as he thought was good, but he thinks we should go ahead with the meeting.

noseymcposey Sat 16-Nov-13 18:53:21

Another one here who has been in your shoes. The first time I met the DSS's they were 12 and 9 and we went away to a caravan for the weekend. Talk about in at the deep end!! I remember going off partway through and having a cry because I felt so out of my depth! I am also quite a bit younger than DP and would have been a gymslip mum to have been able to be eldest DSS's mum!

Mainly because of my complete lack of youth and inexperience I've never tried to be their mum. Certainly I never tucked them in at night or anything like that! I disagree with not cooking for them though. At the beginning DP did everything for them and I did nothing because I thought that was right but I think I just ended up coming across about cold and lazy! DP and I have lived together for the last 5 years or so and I cook for doing washing for DSS's and basically do the same things for them that I do for anyone else in the household. I do occasionally tell them off as well because I think that although I am not their mum I am the (joint) head of the house so that's my prerogative.. All that is a long way down the line and has developed over the years.

Has your DP introduced people to them before? They may be quite pleased to meet you, you know. Especially as their mum is already living with someone else. My DSS's were pleased when DP and I moved in together as it gave them two proper homes.

Good Luck, it is sometimes very hard especially because there are so many times when you will have to bite your tongue and do the opposite of what you want because it's the 'right' thing to do! It's one thing prioritising your children, that is instinctive and natural. But prioritising step children, at the beginning I think is more learned/rational decision making rather than instinctive. Unless I am just selfish!!

Aeroaddict Fri 15-Nov-13 20:25:23

I'm another one who was in a very similar situation to you OP, about 10 years ago now. I still remember the terror I felt driving over to meet DH's kids for the first time. The only advice I would give is take it steady, and give yourself, and the DC's time to adjust. Let the relationship develop naturally rather than trying to force it. It took DSS a year before he seemed comfortable around me. He barely spoke to me for most of that year. He was never rude, just very shy. We got there in the end though, and get on great now.

SniffAndMoomintroll Fri 15-Nov-13 19:07:16

Thanks so much, everyone. I'm reading all of these and they're really encouraging, so thank you!

In answer to a couple of questions: no, I'm definitely not going to try and be their mum! That never occurred to me, really, as they have a mum already. I'm more worried about the opposite, really - that I have no experience with children, and will feel like an intruder, especially when DP is so much older than I am.

He has them for less time than their mum does, but then he might have them for a week or so at a time.

The posts about making sure that I make sure that DP takes responsibility for them are really helpful, as are the suggestions for making sure that I know it's OK to leave them to it sometimes and go off and do my own thing!

Not really worried about his ex, or the relationship between them - from what I gather it's very mature and respectful. They've been separated for a very long time, and she is happily settled with somebody else.

Love the idea of making sure that my house is "child friendly" when we get that far, LadyFlumpalot, thank you! It's exactly this kind of thing that I might not think of as I'm not used to children.

theoriginalandbestrookie Fri 15-Nov-13 12:26:50

How long has he been divorced/separated for?

Three months does seem quite soon, but if he has been separated for a reasonable amount of time, then it could be that he just knows what he wants !

How often does he have the DCs ? This could be an important factor as well going forward.

enderwoman Fri 15-Nov-13 12:21:39

Try and position yourself as friend rather than stepmum at first.
Don't discipline - the most "mumsy" thing to do would be to serve drinks, help with a tricky coat zip etc
Try and keep it light and don't be disheartened if you ask them questions and get one word answers. As they relax they'll open up more but that may take time. Hopefully your dp can tell you what they are into or dislike. For example if you told my kids you hated Justin Bieber, they would think you're a pretty cool adult.,

willyoulistentome Fri 15-Nov-13 12:04:17

Apart from the obvious 'run for the hills' line ..

...as they have all said don't try to act like a Mum. Don't do bedtimes, don't cook for them or or deal with mealtimes. ("I don't liiiike it"to everything you cook gets very old very quickly). Don't let your boyfriend try to get you parenting the boys, or making you feel guilty if you want to go out shopping, or just want to leave him to it, when he has contact with the kids. Time alone with their dad will be very important to them.

Try to remember how hard it is for them that their dad has someone else in his life. Cut them lots of slack and let him deal with any bad behaviour. He has been theri dad their whole lives and the have a whle history with him. You have known him 3 months. Do NOT try to disciline them. Just be kind and nice and never ever criticise their Mum in any way, otherwise you will instantly be the evil step mother. Remember you have only heard his side of the story of the breakup.

or just ...run! Wish I had!

LittleOwlie Fri 15-Nov-13 11:54:56

I would totally agree with what some of the other posters are saying. I've never tried to be a mother figure. I think of the kids in the same way as my niece and nephew. They are part of my family, and I'm a carer at times, but never an acting mum.

LittleOwlie Fri 15-Nov-13 11:49:00

I would totally agree with what some of the other posters are saying. I've never tried to be a mother figure. I think of the kids in the same way as my niece and nephew. They are part of my family, and I'm a carer at times, but never an acting mum.

LadyFlumpalot Fri 15-Nov-13 09:56:16

Hiya, I hope you don't mind me posting, I'm not a stepmum, but I have one and I just wanted to say something from the DCs POV that may help make meeting them easier for you.

Please don't try and be a mother figure to the DC straight away. Please make an effort to have a few child friendly things around your house and the makings of child friendly meals in your freezer (fishfingers, frozen chips and ice cream). It will make a it so much easier if the DC feel welcome in your house. My stepmums house was an uninviting and pristine place and I felt I had to just sit on my hands and not move when I was there.

You sound lovely and I'm sure you'll be fine!

flowerpotgirl12 Fri 15-Nov-13 08:57:55

sorry about typos, on phone!

flowerpotgirl12 Fri 15-Nov-13 07:36:56

I think 3 months is very early in the relationship to be meeting his kids. although you think you've found thr one (and you may have) you're still in thr honeymoon period where everything is perfect. bringing kids in can put a lot of pressure on and I think you have to have a solid base ofva relationship first. I would wait a few more months and then take it slowly, don't be over thr top and shower them with gifts, , you'll be a regular part of their lives so go out for thr day or dinner somewhere neutral and just try yo relax and get to know thrm. be very clear with your dp what he expects your role to be eventually. good luck

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