How to Have a Relationship with a Partner's children

Having a relationship with a person who has children is challenging, but it can also be a wonderful experience. Here are some guidelines to help you avoid common pitfalls.
How to Have a Relationship with a Partner's children

Last update: 22 May, 2021

The concept of family has changed and diversified over the years. Among the many new models are blended families – that is, those in which one or both adults have children from previous relationships. If you find yourself in this situation, probably one of the questions that most often comes to mind is: “How should I treat my partner’s children?

It’s certainly a demanding and challenging situation. However, it can also be a pleasant and enriching experience.

To enhance the most positive aspects and avoid the most common problems, we’ll offer you some basic guidelines.

How to have a relationship with your partner’s children

Every relationship is different, but when there are other people involved in the equation (in this case, children) there are several challenges that others don’t have to face.

However, with love, respect, and communication from both parties, it’s possible to enjoy a wonderful bond. To achieve this, keep the following points in mind.

Accept the situation

If you’re a parent yourself, you’ll be more aware of what family life entails. However, if your partner has children and you don’t, you may find it hard to get used to the idea of how this will affect your relationship. Children need care, attention, and presence.

A parent’s job is a full-time job. They may not be able to stay out late. Your plans will include children’s activities and sometimes, even in the middle of the night, one of the children may end up getting into the bed with you.

Accepting that you’re joining not just one person, but an entire family, can be complicated, but it’s essential. You can’t berate them for these aspects or ask your partner to neglect their children in favor of the relationship. Understanding and support are essential.

A family sleeping in bed
Having children get into the parents’ bed is a common thing to learn to deal with.

Set boundaries

Starting a relationship with a person who has children can put you in an uncertain and ambiguous position. Therefore, you must talk to your partner and establish some basic points.

For example, what you each expect from the relationship, what role you’re going to take in the life of their children or how much responsibility you take. Clarifying these aspects from the beginning can avoid misunderstandings and reproaches in the future.

Take care of your relationship

Even though you aren’t the parent of the children, there will be many moments of cohabitation. You and your partner may fall into an all-consuming routine of taking care of the kids and neglect the bond between you.

Finding space and time to be alone to continue building emotional intimacy is very necessary so that you don’t fall into dissatisfaction.

4 tips for relating with your partner’s children

In the beginning, you may not even know how to talk with your partner’s children, since it’s a situation that can generate uneasiness in everyone involved. Therefore, here are some tips that can help you have a more pleasant experience.

1. Take it one step at a time

Adapting to this new family structure can be complicated for everyone. That is why you must give yourself that time to adapt.

Try to approach your partner’s children gradually. First in neutral spaces and, later, starting small moments of cohabitation before sharing the home fully.

In the same way, don’t expect the relationship to flow magnificently from the very first moment. If it does, great, but it’s likely to be colder and more distant at first. It’s natural, be patient with yourself and with them.

2. Be understanding

Often, children’s first reaction to a parent’s new partner is rejection. Don’t take it personally.

Try to understand that this is a complicated circumstance for them, which implies losing what they were used to. Because of this, they may feel fear and mistrust. Give them space and try to be available, but not invasive.

3. Build a relationship

Children are people and, as with adults, affinity may be greater or lesser. However, it’s good to try to find common ground that will allow them to build a bond of their own.

Perhaps you share an interest that you can talk about or a hobby that you both enjoy. Spending time together doing activities together will help forge a relationship of trust and closeness.

A father with his children
Finding activities to share and do together fosters bonding between adults and children.

4. Remember your place

It’s important to keep in mind that you aren’t the parent of these children, so the final authority and decisions rest with their parents. However, as one of the adults in their care and as their parent’s partner, there needs to be respect.

Dealing with your partner’s children is a challenge that requires patience

Dealing with your partner’s children will require patience, understanding, and perseverance. But in any case, remember to prioritize yourself and take care of your mental health and emotional well-being throughout the process.

Be sure to communicate fluently and assertively with your partner and seek professional support if you feel you need it.

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