Tips for Dealing with Your Date's Adult Children When They Make You Feel Unwelcome
Dear April Masini,
I am dating a great guy. We're both in our 50s. I have never been married and he is widowed with three children in their 20s."
Because his kids are all grown and have moved out of the house, I didn't think too hard about them when we started dating. Still, I looked forward to meeting them. It turns out they are less-than-forthcoming towards people who date their dad.
He has told me not to worry about it and that they'll warm up to me eventually, but I am concerned that if I do something wrong they'll hate me forever. I know that he couldn't spend his life with a woman who wasn't getting along with his family. Any advice for winning them over?
Not an Evil Stepmom
April Masini's Advice :
Dear Not an Evil Stepmom,
Dating a single parent is very different from dating a single adult without children. The territory can be extremely complicated, and yet, that's the state of the date for many divorced parents. Here are some tips and strategies to make your relationship work with your date and his children.
- Lower your expectations. The Brady Bunch only happened because there were no exes involved. Don't expect to form an insta-family. Don't even expect them to like you. What you can expect is for them to be polite. If they're not, run. You will be running eventually -- save yourself the time. You have the right to expect your date to have polite children as well as a job and a good haircut.
- Never bad mouth their other parent. Ever! Not even behind their back. Take the high road, and if you can't find it, take some time off from dating anyone to do a personal retreat so you can get on the right track.
- Don't take on too much. It's very easy to want to bend over backward to accommodate your date's adult children, but you may find yourself (especially if you're a caretaking woman) with too much on your plate and too little in terms of personal resources. You will explode or express your stress in a destructive way. So, instead of inviting them to your house for a home cooked dinner, invite them out to dinner for an easy dinner. Instead of buying them the perfect, personal Christmas presents or birthday presents, get them gift certificates or gift cards to their favorite stores. If you don't know their favorite stores, get one to a department store.
- If they don't like you, don't worry about it -- seriously. All you need is a strong relationship with your partner, and civil behavior all around. It is very normal in relationships for people to have different feelings about people at different times. Ride your life like you would a roller coaster. Try and enjoy it.