The topic of how to handle moving in together with kids are involved presents a lot of questions for my clients. How soon is too soon? How do you get the kids to accept you in the family? How do you create a relationship between your own kids and your partner’s kids…?
It’s normal to have so many questions swirling around in your head, but there is one trick that I have found to work particularly well. I was coaching Aria who had come to me for some pointers because she was dating a man with kids. Aria had two younger kids of her own, ages 6 and 12, and the conversation about moving in together had come up. The relationship between Aria and her boyfriend was going very well and they had been seeing each other for close to a year, but they hadn’t spent much time with all of their children together. Aria was worried that moving in together would be too much of a shock, even though it felt like the time was right and both she and her partner wanted it. Neither of them wanted to put unnecessary stress on their children, and they wanted to figure out a way to bond. So I suggested that they take a weekend trip somewhere, all together. It should be someplace fun, maybe with a pool or plenty of outdoor activities that the kids would enjoy.
This way, the kids can develop bonds independently of the parents, and they can get a feel for what coexisting would feel like. We want to give them opportunities to connect while helping them to associate positive memories with your relationship.
If you are dating someone with kids and they’re moving into your home, before they officially make the move, invite the kids to stay with you guys for a couple of nights at your place. This way they can get familiarized with your home and start to feel more comfortable. The last thing you want to do is make the move feel like a shock, or the new house feel like something that is super foreign to the kids. You’ll need to warm them up to the idea simply by letting them experience the positive elements of moving in together little by little, until it doesn’t feel like such a foreign concept anymore.
That said, it’s also important to not abandon your independent family traditions entirely. The kids will need to feel that not everything will change when you move in together. Encourage your partner to do the same with his or her children, and you’ll see that this will greatly benefit your relationship.
You’ll also want to regularly check in with the kids and see how they’re doing. Let them know and understand that they are in a safe place to talk to you about their feelings and their needs. I also want to stress the importance of offering the same type of openness and support to your partner’s children as you start to get to know each other better. I know it can be hard at times, especially if the kids are actively trying to resist change.
You know, one of my childhood friends was actually in a situation where his dad was marrying someone new. His parents had been divorced for a long time, and his mom actually passed away in a tragic car accident. My friend was in high school when this happened. Around the time that he was 17 or 18, he learned that his dad had been in a serious relationship with a woman out in Florida, where he lived at the time, and the news was not well-received. The grief was still present following his mom’s accident, and the thought of his dad being with another person and actually marrying them made my friend feel sick. I remember him saying that he doesn’t know how his dad expects his kids to just welcome this other person with open arms. He was convinced that he would never form a relationship with his dad’s new partner. Well, in time, and after a holiday trip with the two families together, sure enough, they started to ease the tension. I honestly remember thinking that the process was going to take way longer but then in the matter of a few months, his dad’s new wife became fully integrated into their lives, and so did her children. It also helped that she was just a lovely human being, and understood that it was going to take some time. She didn’t do anything that made her husband’s children uncomfortable and was able to handle the situation with finesse.
So, all that to say that even when things feel really challenging and maybe even impossible, they’re not! You can absolutely blend your families and create a dynamic that is truly gratifying for everyone involved.
I do encourage you to reach out to us for one on one coaching. In this article, I have gone over the basics, but there are elements in each relationship that makes it unique. Here at Happily Committed, we have dedicated our lives to giving you all the tips and tools you need to truly thrive in your relationship. By asking you specific questions about your relationship your family dynamics, we can create a custom action plan for you so that you can set yourself up for longterm success. To work with me or a member of my team, just click here!
What it all boils down to is patience. Dating someone with kids presents a unique set of challenges, but none of them are insurmountable. And once you’re able to solidify your bond and blend your families, you will be able to open up the door to an incredibly fruitful relationship for everyone involved! Remember, all relationships have their own challenges anyway, and children bring so much joy to a person’s life.
The most precious things in life take time to develop and nurture, so I don’t want you to be stuck wondering, “Is dating a man with a child worth it,” or “Is dating a girl with a kid a bad idea.” These can truly be some of the most rewarding relationships.
So, to summarize what we went over today:
1. Don’t expect to always come first.
2. Respect your partner’s parenting style and don’t enforce your approach onto them.
3. Before moving in, begin by taking a trip away, where all the kids can interact and generate bonds independently of the parents, as well as see what co-existing is like.
4. When moving in, if you’re moving in to one of the people’s homes, start by inviting the kids to stay in the house a few days a week before the official move in so they can feel comfortable.
5. Don’t abandon independent family traditions when moving into another family’s space – show the kids that not everything will change.
6. Regularly check in with the kids to ensure they feel heard and that their needs are being met.
And to leave you with one last bit of advice before I go, make sure that you schedule a date night with the one you love. Because there are so many things going on when children are involved, it’s easy to lose track of the romance between you. So, make it a priority and it will benefit the relationship.
Wishing you the very best,
Your coach when you want to know about setting yourself up for success when you’re dating someone with kids