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Whether you love kids or can't stand them, whether you're already a parent or you're childfree, dating someone with kids is hard. Disproportionately, mystifyingly, unbelievably hard. There's a bunch of reasons for this. Trying to fit romance in around a schedule that's at least twice as chaotic as other people's. Exponentially increased potential for stress and drama. That whole "kids come first" thing creating abominable snowmonsters where there once were special little snowflakes.
They may view you with emotions ranging from excitement to resentment to outright hatred or oscillate wildly among all of those and some extra emotions tossed in for fun at any given time, maybe simultaneously. As confusing as the blended family dynamic is for the grownups, it's exponentially more so for kids.
Not only is everything happening over their heads and above their pay grade, kids lack the emotional capacity to process the incredibly complex emotions associated with one of their parents dating someone new.
Over time, your future stepkids' emotional barometer will mature enough to figure out their conflicted feelings, which can manifest in different ways.
Some future stepparents are welcomed with open arms- right up till your future stepkids realize you're in this for the long haul, that is. Then they'll pull a Jekyll-Hyde move so sudden it'll drop your jaw.
Other kids immediately reject a stepparent-in-training, and don't stop keeping them at arms' length for a second. And this could go on for years.
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It's super important for your partner to talk openly and honestly with their kids about their feelingsbut equally important not to harp on heavy emotional subject matter till everyone dreads being in the same room together. Your partner can explain to them that it's completely normal and expected for them to have mixed feelings about you being in their lives- and that it's also normal for them to have a laser-focused burning desire to get you out of their lives.
However, your partner also needs to stress that you're not going anywhere and that you're important to themand insist the kids treat you with respect if nothing else. This ebook can help guide that conversation. Any adult dating someone with kids can expect to zip from mood to mood like a manic hummingbird with zero warning of what emotion is coming next.
And one or several of those moods might involve some not-so-nice thoughts aimed toward your partner's kids. Which, just like the not-so-nice feelings your partner's kids' have toward you, is totally normal and very common.
Maybe you want to like your partner's kids but your partner spoils them so obnoxiously you can hardly stand to be around them. Or maybe your partner's ex is high-conflictand you've started viewing- and resenting- the kids as an extension of their opposite parent.
You're still in the dating stages of becoming a stepparentand blending a family takes years. Over time, your feelings will change approximately 86 bajillion times as you find your groove.
And maybe you'll end up really enjoying time with the kids, maybe love will take root and grow. And that's okay too. Because just showing up every day and continuing to work on building that relationship is an act of love in and of itself; let that be enough for right now.
Dating someone with kids can feel a lot like dating by committee. You're not only trying to win over a new partner, you're also trying to win over their kid s. If you have your own kids, you probably want them to approve of your relationship with this new person, too. Maybe your own ex is also sitting in the ever-growing peanut gallery.
And then of course, just like any other relationship, you've both got various friends and relatives and coworkers all casting their votes on the viability of your relationship. The only two people who determine the future of this relationship are you and your partner. You don't need their kid to like you. If you're waiting around for your future stepkid's stamp of approval before getting serious about their parent, you could be waiting years.
It seems like the respectful thing to do, but really it's giving an outside adult inappropriate power in your relationship. The kids already have a parent- your partner- who has full authority to decide who is or is not an appropriate person to introduce into their child's life. Keep being yourself. Keep dating your partner. Keep getting to know each other and deciding if this is something that's gonna work long-term.
The rest will fall into place. When you're holding hands with someone who regularly gets buckets of drama tossed their way, you can't keep some from splashing over onto you once in awhile. But what you can do is take big, wide steps around the biggest muck-filled sinkholes to minimize the drama in your own path. If there's conflict with the kids, let your partner handle it. If there's conflict with the ex, especially let your partner handle that. Avoiding drama and conflict is harder than it sounds.
It's human nature to want to fight for equality and justice, defend yourself against false accusations, and right the wrongs you see. When you're dating someone with kids, there's intense emotion. There's a lot of conflict, especially in the early days when everyone is finding their place. Everyone's emotional barometers are way out of whack, including your own. But the more people who get sucked into whatever drama is at hand, the worse and messier and all-encompassing it becomes.
Your job, as a future stepparent, is not to clean up the mess you wandered into. That mess was already there. You are not in charge of fixing or improving anything. You are not a rule enforcer in a home that isn't yours with kids who aren't yours. You are not the ambassador between the ex's hostile nation and your partner. Over time, the current dynamics will change. Over time, drama dies down- even if it takes years. If you progress from dating to commitment, if you decide to share a home, then later on you and your partner can create better boundaries together that keep any remaining drama at bay.
Your job right now is to establish firm boundaries for yourself. Avoid whatever drama you can. Disengage from that shiz. When you're in the early stages of dating someone with kids, that hot mess of emotions everyone's experiencing makes all parties involved super touchy.
If you've read any stepparenting resources at all, you'll see "Don't take it personally" advised over and over again till you want to scream and punch things, because A it's your relationship and your future family so um yes, it's extremely personal and B no one explains how the hell you're not supposed take rejection personally.
There's a reason all those books and forums say not to take stepparenting so personally. Your future stepkids would treat any adult in your position the exact same way they're treating you. Although I know that for me, recognizing that in my logical mind didn't help take the sting out. So instead of saying not to take things so personally which is another way to describe disengagingbtwI would say instead: try to not take stepparenting so seriously. And the foolproof way to do this?
Big emotions feel scary whether you're a kid or an adult, and sometimes the only way to deflate them down into a more manageable size is to poke some fun at them.
Jan 09, I would say 'dating' is when you are steadily going on dates with someone, not just steadily hooking up with someone. I would say 'dating' is a . Here are 20 Things You Should Never Do When You First Start Dating: 1. Brag or Lie. Never ever brag or lie. If you talk like you are everything in the world, you might risk the chances of having the relationship. When you lie, then you have to keep remembering the lie every time you meet your significant other. Do not pretend to be someone. Dating Someone With Anxiety: 4 Things To Do (And 4 NOT To Do) Dating is a daunting process at the best of times, right? The nerves, the butterflies, the excitement.
Make room for fun. Crack more jokes.
Tease your partner a bit. Tease the kids a bit. Appreciate the absurdity of it all.
If you're going to laugh about it later anyway, just laugh now. I mean, don't invalidate anyone; there's a line between teasing and mean that should not be crossed. But don't get so wound about making everyone happy- about making sure everything is perfect and everyone gets along- that you end up feeling stiff, stifled, and resentful. Stepparenting is overwhelming a surprising percentage of the time.
No matter how committed you are to building your blended family, you cannot be all in, all the time without some kind of pressure relief valve. Humor helps tip the scales away from anger and toward regaining a balanced perspective.
Here's a little secret that no one tells you: every single good stepparenting thing that happens, no matter how fleeting, makes you feel 10 feet tall.
And it's amazing. No matter how resistant your future stepkids might be to your presence at first, eventually some of the stuff you're trying so hard to contribute to their live sinks in. Seeing even the vaguest echoes of your own beliefs or values or traditions start peeking out here and there in these kids over the years- these kids you met by chance, who you are completely unrelated to, who sometimes act like they're whatever the next step removed is beyond strangers- feels flat-out miraculous.
Long-term, seeing the positive effects of your stepparenting is rewarding in a way that's utterly different from seeing your biological children grow into functional adults. You expect that you're passing your legacy down to your bio kids; that's the definition of being a parent. But to find you're impacting your stepkids is a pleasant surprise, especially when it can so often feel like no one really wants your input including and maybe especially your stepkids.
Growing In A Relationship: 12 Things To Do While Dating Someone
My stepdaughter used to leave the room when I walked in. For years. She threw away presents I gave her. She would not eat her lunches if she knew I was the one who packed them. She refused to greet me when she walked in the door, would not speak to me when I attended piano recitals or school plays. She spent the entirety of her formative years rejecting me as thoroughly as she could, in every way she could, and making sure I damn well knew it.
And yet, a dozen years later, that same kid is now enrolled in the college I graduated from, living in my hometown, pursuing a career that I encouraged. Not because she had some sudden epiphany about how fabulous I am, but because I just kinda rubbed off on her over time without her quite realizing it.
The rewards of stepparenting are way too few and way too far between; the bullshit outnumbers the wins by at least 10 to 1. You can't think about stepparenting in terms of being "worth it" - just like no one thinks about whether it'll be "worth it" to have biological kids. You do it because you want to, because you're willing to make that commitment with no guarantee of a net positive outcome.
2. DO Be Patient And Learn When To Take A Step Back
Making the commitment does not mean every day will be sunshine and roses, but the wins you find along the way are all the sweeter for their unexpectedness.
Yes, even if you're a total kid person I am a total kid person.
Not necessarily. Stepparenting is dealing with way more than kids If you were just dating someone with kids and that single element- the mere presence of tiny humans- were the only wild card, becoming a stepparent would be way easier. But there's sooooo much more to dating someone with kids than trading in candlelit dinners for play dates: Your time with your new partner is restricted by their time with their kids.
Connecting with your future stepkids takes years, not months I don't think any pre-stepparent with half a brain thinks their future stepkids will fall in love with them overnight. You can't become a stepparent alone In kid-free relationships, there's you and there's your new partner and that's it. You gotta pick your battles Becoming a stepparent is like renting a house. You have choices. You can: 1 Become overwhelmed by all the things you wish you could change but can't; curl up in a permanent ball and cry.
Stepparenting will get harder before it gets easier If I had to recreate my own timeline for becoming a stepmom, it'd look something like this: 6 months to 1 year: Date a guy with kids, continually expecting that the awkward difficult stage will pass. Read that blending a family takes 5 to 7 years. Immediately forget that statistic.
Wonder why the hell no one told me THAT before. Trying harder can make things worse If your stepkid consistently rejects you just for being yourself, it's only natural to think you should up your game.
Which is totally normal, and totally okay. Disengaging the Wrong Way can also make things worse Okay but by not trying harder, I don't mean going all martyr like "Welp, no one wants me around anyway, I'll just let my partner hang out solo with the kids again this weekend. A lot of children of divorce are innately unlikable In a traditional family, we know exactly what happens to the kids whose parents bend over backwards, hand them everything on a silver platter and never enforce rules, consequences, or boundaries.
It's okay for your future stepkids not to like you Your stepkids aren't likely to become your number one fans out of the gate. And that's normal. It's okay for you to not like your future stepkids Any adult dating someone with kids can expect to zip from mood to mood like a manic hummingbird with zero warning of what emotion is coming next. All completely normal.
As far as I'm concerned, there are two types of pseudo-relationships you can be in that aren't real, bonafide relationships: You're either " hooking up " casual booty calls, probably not going anywhere or you're "dating" going on dates, getting to know each other, hopefully going somewhere.
I would say my boyfriend and I were "dating" long before we were in a relationship. The other day, my friends and I were talking read: extensively gossiping about an acquaintance and her new boy.
I tried to say they were "dating. Throwing anger back at a person who is working their way through an anxiety attack only makes things worse. This is not the natural reaction that most people have. Most people respond to anger with anger, especially if they feel attacked.
Well, your partner may say or do things that hurt you when their anxiety is heightened. Anxiety is not an excuse for such rude or mean behaviorbut it can be a reason for it. As hard is may be, trying to compartmentalize an attack by them on you during an episode of anxiety is one way to ease the emotional effect it has on you.
You have to tell yourself that this is their anxiety talking through them. It is not the calm, loving person you are dating that wants to hurt you. That being said, no one is perfect. There are going to be some rough times to navigate. It is really common for people who do not have a mental illness to assume that every negative emotion in a mentally ill person stems from difficulty with their mental illness.
People with anxiety are still people. Sometimes there are negative emotions, actions, or experiences that can result from poor decisions, bad days, or general frustration. If you generalize all their emotions as being rooted in their anxiety, you invalidate how they might be feeling. And this can drive a wedge between you. Your partner may, at some point, lash out at you because of their anxiety.
Sometimes things spiral out of control. Sometimes techniques learned in therapy do not work. There are numerous reasons why things can go bad. Thus, the ability to not take things personally is an important skill to have in case there are harsh words or questionable actions.
What not to do when dating someone
You may be the focus of their anger of frustration simply because you are the one who is there with them at the moment it strikes. Try to see these outbursts as an unfortunate passenger in your relationship - an annoying child in the backseat of the car who screams and moans at you sometimes. The line is drawn wherever you choose to draw it. Only an individual can fix themselves.
There is no greater, more important truth in trying to extend understanding and love to a person with mental illness.
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