HEY BESTIE: I’ve been dating someone for a few months and I really like him. We’ve both got primary school-aged kids from previous relationships. Things have been going well but I just don’t think he’s a great parent. Am I overstepping if I give him some advice on better ways to deal with his kids?
This is a great question for people who are starting fresh on their second or third relationship, potentially with kids of their own with a new partner who also has kids.
This is called a blended relationship.
Blended relationships can be difficult at the best of times…but don’t need to be.
In an ideal world, both your partner and yourself get along brilliantly well with your exes and you both have the same morals and values around raising kids, rules, boundaries and discipline.
Let me be clear…that’s in an ideal world and relationships don’t always pan out like that.
More than likely, there’s some underlying and unresolved issues with the exes.
Your partner might parent differently to how you do and the kids simply do not get along or respect the adults in the house.
If this is the case, it makes it difficult to truly focus on your relationship and one another.
One of the best things that you can do in a blended relationship is to have a conversation, and the sooner the better, about the rules, boundaries, etc. that the two of you are willing to implement in this new relationship with the kids.
Unlike other relationships, please be aware that when kids are involved, there is no such thing as a non-serious relationship.
Successfully blending a family, which can actually happen, takes a long time.
This is not an overnight hit kind of situation.
It’s been quoted to take between five to seven years on average, and even up to 10 years to successfully blend a relationship with kids.
This is an objective reminder that you are not just dating; you are committing. You are committing to being a step-parent, to helping raise someone else’s child(ren).
You need to fully step out of your way and be vulnerable with yourself, your partner, the kids and the exes involved.
If there are aspects of your partner’s parenting that you don’t fully agree with, have a conversation.
Take the time to ask the questions as to why they do or don’t do certain things. Take the time to understand from their perspective.
Hopefully, you are in a relationship that fosters positive communication between the two of you and you can express your perspective as well.
Once that conversation has been had, come to a mutually agreeable position of how you are willing to parent together and what barriers you might face when dealing with the exes or other family members.
If you truly love your partner and the two of you can communicate in a way in which you feel heard, understood and appreciated, you will be able to foster a great blended family.
Because after all, everyone deserves to be in a relationship that brings the best out in them…especially one with kids.