How is your relationship with the children of your partner?
I never thought I should have a relationship with a man with children,
but he appeared in my life, and I said yes.
However, although it was very clear that I wanted to be with my partner, I wasn’t so sure about the children. And the truth is that at first, one, of them, made it quite difficult for me.
Or at least, I lived so.
In this post I want to explain my personal experience of how I create a bond with the children of my couple and, especially, the daughter of my partner.
Of course, every family, every child, every couple is different and we can’t generalize, but sometimes what works for one person may serve another, so I hope my experience can be helpful for you.
When I met my partner, he has two children (a boy aged 8 and a girl of 10), and I had none.
At that moment, I looked for information on the internet, because it was an issue that I hadn’t studied in my degree, but I only managed to find one interesting article, because the information there was on the internet, was too general.
So I’m going to make an effort to specify what I think it’s important.
My 10 tips to create an emotional bond with your partner’s children
1. Your partner’s children belongs to your partner
It may seem obvious, but let me remind you once again: your partner children are YOUR PARTNER’S CHILDREN, that is, NOT YOURS.
So your “role” is not to be “THEIR MOTHER” because THEY ALREADY HAVE ONE.
And this means there are many decisions regarding certain aspects like where they go to school, the dentist or things the children may need, which are none of your business.
It will be their parents who’ll make these decisions for their children.
This at some point, can make you feel a little “left out” or “isolated” but if you understand well that it’s important for parents to be the ones to make decisions about their children, you will feel much better.
Another thing is not agreeing with their decisions.
In this case, you’ll have to talk to your partner and give your opinion, but respecting their decision at all times.
Where’s the limit?
I’ve asked myself this question a thousand times and believe me, in certain situations, I still I keep wondering.
Because even though you’re not their mother, you do have to coexist with them and somehow, you have to take certain roles, let’s say to differentiate as a “stepmother”.
Perhaps you cook for them, take them to school, help them with homework, play with them, make them go to bed early and rest…
All of this can create internal problems when playing your role.
You do this for them, what you would do for your own children, however, there are certain things you can’t decide.
Sincerely, it’s difficult.
The important thing to remember is this:
The mother is the mother and you have to give her, her place.
2. You are the third
Let’s imagine that your partner had children with someone and then they separated. After a while, you started a
After a while, you started a relationship with that man and you found an “already made” family. Although the parents no longer live together, they did create that first family.
I’m going to tell you something that is evident from an “external” point of view, but more complicated and difficult to accept, from an “internal” point of view.
The woman that your partner had the children with was “the first“. Then came the children and they were “second“.
Finally, you came, and you got to the “third place“ in your partner’s life.
This is very important to understand because in your mind there has to be room for everyone.
Because your partner separated from his partner, the children’s mother had to make a space for you. And so, you’re there today.
Instead of feeling angry for not being “the first”, appreciate the fact that you have a place in this new “family” that was created when you arrived.
To understand that I got help from a friend who works with Family Constellations, which was created by Bert Hellinger.
It’s a type of therapy that works in an energetic and systemic level and helps us be in peace with the situations we live and the people that belong to our family tree.
I don’t know whether when reading about the third position, you understand what I mean, but if you have doubts, just ask me.
3. Your partner has to give you your place
We have already made it clear that you are not their mother, but you have a place in that family, and the father has to give you that place in front of his children.
Your place in this case is that you are the “new” partner of his father. And he has to treat you as his partner in front of his children.
I know there are people who decide to wait for a little to tell their children about a new relationship, and that’s fine.
I’m not saying that things have to be done in a certain way.
But from the moment you decide that he will have to treat you as his partner. It’s not ok for him to treat you as “a friend” because that would confuse the children and everyone else.
Children are not stupid, understand everything, even if they don’t tell us.
Therefore, the more honest and sincere we are with them, the better.
4. Relationships need time
Any relationship needs time. But relationships with kids require more time, because if they could choose, they would keep their parents together.
When a new partner arrives, EVERYONE needs a period to adapt to the new family structure.
Keep in mind that, to create emotional bonds with your partner’s children, you’ll need time.
Don’t pretend that the relationship will flow from the very first moment, although it’s also true that it will depend on the child.
In my case, I didn’t have any problem with the boy, but the girl rejected me.
And that hurt me, because I really didn’t understand why.
It could be a protection mechanism, or maybe a sense of loyalty for her mother.
But there are different types of children, so if you’re facing a difficult child, you don’t have to take full responsibility for what happens. Remember that relationships have two sides.
My suggestion is that you should take it easy and take care of yourself because emotionally speaking, there may be moments with lots of tension.
Talk to your partner and express how you feel, but remember speaking in the first person, so he doesn’t interpret your feelings as an attack.
5. Love is not mandatory
One of the things I liked about the only post I found that helped me, was that it was written from the perspective of how a child might feel about their father or mother’s new partner.
And I remember that the article said, over the years, a feeling could grow that is similar to the love one person can feel for a close relative.
Of course, it doesn’t compare to what a child can feel for his or her parents or parents can feel for their children.
But as they are not obligated to feel love for you, it isn’t mandatory for you to feel love for them.
Especially in the beginning.
Having this information relaxed me a lot because I constantly had mixed feelings.
Above all, don’t judge yourself and feel calm since it’s very normal to feel completely opposite emotions.
Eventually, everything will calm down, as will feelings.
6. Look for something to share with the children
In my case, my partner’s daughter loves baking and I remember that at first, she asked me if I wanted to bake muffins with her.
I had never done that before, so I didn’t really know how to, but I valued the time we spent baking because it was a time for “us”, where we created a bond based on an activity we both enjoyed.
From my point of view, share something you enjoy and by generating a feeling of well-being you’ll make those emotional barriers fall.
It was also a chance to spend some time alone with her, listening and “being present” with her and for her.
And those moments made us grow closer in our relationship.
With the son, it took me a little more time, because I don’t like football, but finally, I found something we both enjoyed, watching movies.
It’s true that in this case, his father is usually present because he also likes them, but sometimes, we see a movie, only the two of us.
Share those moments and create a bond with your partner ‘s children little by little.
7. Spend time doing something altogether
The new family structure needs experiences, memories and moments that will gradually make all members relax and feel like they belong to a group.
To do this, the new family system has to share time, space, moments and if possible, do something that the kids like. You may go to a certain place or do some activity together.
The important thing is to have a pleasant experience with the new family structure, to help consolidate it.
8. Tell the child what you don’t like
In this section I’d like to point out three things:
- You can’t tell them what you don’t like or what he or she does wrong all the time.
- Choose an appropriate moment and tone to say what you want to say
- Say one thing at a time
I’ll give you an example of my beginnings in the relationship:
I remember when baking cupcakes with my partner’s daughter, she never washed the dishes after we finished and I had to wash them all.
At that time I was giving priority to the “doing something together” than to the fact that she didn’t clean.
But, you know what?
I didn’t like that behavior and it got me angrier every time.
By the fourth time she asked me to make muffins with her, I answered:
“Yes, but when we finish, we’ll clean the dishes together”.
And so it was.
If you don’t say what bothers you or what you’d like them to do, you’ll start feeling bad. And that emotional distress will inadvertently change your behavior towards them,.
The child will notice your change of attitude, but he or she won’t understand it.
Another thing that is also important is to decide what things you can tell them directly and what should be better for their father or mother to say because they have a different bond.
Talk to your partner and decide it together.
In fact, your partner should help you a lot in building a relationship with their children and, if he doesn’t, you have to ask for it.
He must teach his children to respect, value and consider you.
Normally, that is done by the example, but also by correcting them when necessary.
9. You are a role model
You’re with them and they are growing. They may not always be with you, if the parents have joint custody, but children “copy” adults.
And, in particular those with whom they have a close and important relationship.
So even if you’re not their mother or father, you’re an important person to them so consider they’ll be watching you, and if they like what they see, they’ll eventually imitate you.
This is where your role becomes more important and you can teach your values, through example.
Remember that actions speak louder than words. So be that role model for them.
10. And don’t forget to take care of yourself
Last but not least, I want to say that the process of creating a bond with your partner ‘s children isn’t easy, and you’ll have to take care of yourself a lot and attend your needs.
You’ll have to be patient with yourself and accept and manage any emotions that may arise.
Treat yourself with affection, don’t be too demanding with yourself and give yourself time to assimilate the new situation.
Living together is difficult for anyone, so friction will always arise, and things will bother you. It’s a question of managing your emotions, giving them space and asking yourself how you feel and what you need.
My advice is that, if you feel overwhelmed by something.
Find a quiet place and focus on breathing.
Remember who you are and focus on yourself.
The most important relationship must be with yourself. If you can keep that, you will manage the rest.
Hopefully, this post will help you. I’d already liked what I found when searching for this subject on the internet, after a while, it was me who wrote my own advice.
If you know someone in a similar situation, please send them this article, she or he’ll probably appreciate it.