You’ve met someone who stirs you in ways you’ve only imagined. E-mail from them arrives in your mailbox and you smile. Their voice on the other end of the line makes your stomach flutter. The sight of them makes all your worries seem unimportant and their happiness all that matters- until you hear a child scream for them and they have to deal with the situation in another part of the house. You snap out of your amorous state of mind and anxiously wonder if you are ready to deal with the other part of their life- the kids.
I’m sure you knew going into the relationship that they had kids. It wasn’t a real issue until you met them. All kinds of feelings are associated with this kind of situation. Anxiety, unease and feeling uncertain about the kind of roll you might play in the lives of this family. It can feel like an overwhelming position but one that you are considering if you have begun to contemplate your readiness.
You are with this person because there is chemistry. A relationship with the kind of chemistry you feel with this person is hard to find. It was easy to put off dealing with the fact that children were involved at first. When your new partner was ready, you were invited to meet the kids and that’s where the reality set in.
First and foremost, you must like children! If you generally find that you don’t enjoy children, there isn’t a very good chance you might miraculously fall in love with his or her kids. You need to see how well you get along with the children. A day at the park or an outing for ice cream is a great way for everyone to interact and feel each other out.
You will need to see how well you get along with the ‘ex’ if he or she is involved. In any kind of situation, the better the adults get along, the better it is for the children. You don’t have to be best friends, but to be able to acknowledge each other in greetings and exchange a few words let the kids know that you aren’t any threat to the existing structure of the family.
Finally, you need to define your role in this family. A detailed discussion with your partner about this should clearly define any kind of expectations and limitations on your part. You should also use this opportunity to express your concerns and address them. Above all, the fact that you have reached the point of asking yourself if you can handle being with someone who has children is healthy and normal. It is a realization many people have to deal with these days. The maturity it takes to recognize and deal with the potential issues has you already taking a very positive step forward, whatever your decision might be.