How do I best get acquainted, and develop a good relationship, with my boyfriends' kids?
posted by anonymous to human relations (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
The initial question glosses over the important particulars, as initial questions often do. Oh gods of brevity, I meekly request your grace:
We've been dating long-distance on-and-off since June, but we've known each other for over two years, through work (He was, um, my boss at my college work-study job). Because of the awkward work situation, we didn't start dating (or even confess our feelings) till I'd almost graduated and wasn't working with him anymore.
Unfortunately, I was already pretty committed to moving halfway across the country at that point, and neither of us felt comfortable with me giving that up for a nascent relationship. So I went, and after some minor bumbling at first, we're still together and it's lovely and the more I learn about him, the luckier I feel.
But we know the long-distance thing won't work long-term, so I'm moving back to the area in a few weeks. I want to make sure I'm going about this as wisely and responsibly as possible.
Here's the practical breakdown: I'm 23, and this is my first serious relationship. He's 33 and divorced, with primary custody of his two children (9 and 7). He has a reasonably civil relationship with his ex-wife, who gets the kids every other weekend. He's a good dad who loves his children to death.
Our initial plan was to have me rent a small apartment in walking distance of his house, but the available ones are a bit out of my price range. Plan B is to have me look for a cheaper apartment farther away and spend the difference on buying a car, which I'll need at some point anyway. We toyed with the idea of me moving into his house but decided that'd be really hard on the kids.
I'll be moving away in six or seven months to start school, so we'll have to reassess the situation then. If we decide we're in this for the long haul, they might come with me. But we want to be absolutely sure before uprooting them like that (and risking things getting ugly with their mom - he's avoided a court battle till now because of how it might affect the kids, even though she's never paid child support.).
Basically, we're trying to tread carefully over these practical quagmires, and to that end, I'd like the input of the hive mind. From what he's told me, his kids seem lovely - brilliant, funny, mature, and well-adjusted. I never thought I'd end up with a guy who has children, but I've gotten used to, even excited about, the idea, and it's important to me that this be a positive experience for them. For what it's worth, I'm his second serious girlfriend since the divorce (which was 4-5 years ago), and they seemed to accept her a lot more readily than he worried they would.
So: how should I introduce myself into their lives? I guess I'm just looking for general advice, particularly from children of divorced parents, and those who have dated divorced parents. (As a side question, would it be a very bad idea to move in with them before we're engaged? I think I know the answer to that one, but I'll ask just in case I'm being overly cautious.) I'll possibly get a sock-puppet account to answer any questions, or e-mail jessamyn.
(oh, and we'd both want more children of our own, but since I'm going back to school, it wouldn't happen for several years.)