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Introducing Your Kids to His Kids

by Chris Grannis

Introducing your new partner to your children has taken time, effort, and sensitivity. So too does introducing the kids to each other. This introduction and 'getting to know you' stage can be vital in determining future relationships in your blended family. But the most important thing to remember is to relax and have fun. There is little more detrimental to any sort of relationship than stress, anxiety, and tension, but some forward planning can drastically reduce these and go a long way to smoothing the road ahead.

Reassure Your Children
Just as you have been doing throughout the dating process, it is important that you continue to nurture your children and your relationship with them, and reassure them that they will always be your priority. It is a mistake to burden your children with the expectation of perfect sibling relationships at this stage. However, if you present this as an opportunity to make new friends your children will be more likely to see it as a positive experience.

Age Differences
In many ways it can be easier if there is a considerable age difference between your kids and his. This reduces any prospective competition between them over things such as sports, dates, clothes, and toys. However, it is unrealistic to think that friction will not exist simply because yours are teens and his are toddlers. Babies and small children usually adjust to the change much more quickly than teenagers. If someone is attentive and kind to them they will quickly respond. With older children, however, they have built up a much longer history with their parent and can be resistant to change, and wary of being replaced by some other child in your affections. Especially if that someone makes people laugh with her appalling table manners and is treated with humor and tolerant affection when she rolls in the mud in her best clothes! So, regardless of age, each child needs to feel that they are just as special to their parent as they have been and that nothing is going to change that. So say it! And mean it!

Planning Activities
By now both sets of kids should have had ample opportunity and plenty of activities to get to know their prospective step-parent and should have built up an element of trust with them. It is now the adults' turn to decide on a family activity that, hopefully, everyone will enjoy. It is important to keep the potential for disagreements to a minimum so try to avoid activities that have an element of competition. There's nothing to be gained by pitting the kids against each other at this early stage. Believe me, as time goes by they will find plenty of ways to do this without your help! So a trip to a water park, zoo, or theme park might be more appropriate than something like bowling or paint-balling.

Having Fun
The main objective of this initial meeting should be for everyone to have fun. It takes time to get to know other people so don't expect the kids to hit it off straight away. The early stages of their relationships with each other can be crucial and if fun is the most memorable part of the day then they are more likely to look favorably on each other and have a desire to know more.

Don't Push It
Children should be given time to develop relationships with one another before you take your relationship and, let's face it, every other family member's, to the next level. A fun family activity once a week is enough to begin with. Then you can perhaps add a home movie night - your place one week, his place the next. Soon, as relationships develop and everyone begins to feel more at ease, you might have your partner take all the boys, yours and his, to participate in something they all enjoy, and you can do the same with the girls. Or one of you can take the older children and the other the little kids for a more age appropriate event. And, once everyone is feeling comfortable, or at least familiar with one another, you can plan a short vacation together. Traveling, planning activities, eating, working together, and waking up to someone else's make-up free face or bed-head hair can be a very illuminating and equalizing experience

Be Patient
In essence, you are laying the ground work for the rest of your life. You and your partner are at the stage of introducing the children because you have both decided to make a long-term commitment to your relationship. So, what is a month or two in this life-long scheme? It is well-worth investing this time to get to know one another's kids, letting them get to know each other, and finding if you can all live with each other's flaws. A little effort and a lot of patience will help create a much more peaceful and harmonious life when you finally take the big step of marriage or living together.

Happy Blending!

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New FeatureRelated Articles: From Single Mom to Brady Bunch: Introducing the Kids to Your New Love Interest, Common Sense Dating for Single Parents,

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