Meet the … kids!

meet the parentsThe film “Meet the Parents” showed how nerve wracking it can be to meet your sweetie’s parents. Well, how about when you meet his kids? That can be similarly unnerving, since if they don’t like you it can strain the relationship.

I had the opportunity to meet my beau’s kids this week. At least two of the three of them. And while there was a little apprehension, it went fine. Here are some things I suggest if you expect to meet his kids. (Since I don’t have kids, I can’t give you any suggestions for when he will meet yours.)

  • Make sure he knows the impact his comments about you can make to influence the kids’ feelings toward you. He should be judicious — perhaps even guarded — about what he tells them about you. Of course, some of this has to do with their age, as younger kids may feel more threatened about you than older ones. And if his separation/divorce is recent, they may harbor hope that their parents will still reconcile, so will resent you getting in the way.
  • Ask him about their interests so you can ask relevant questions. It helps break the ice if you can engage them about things that are important to them.
  • Make sure he doesn’t discuss your opinion of any challenges he faces with their behavior. That is between you and him. The kid may think you are trying to parent him/her, and if you are only dating it is too soon to step into this role.
  • Bring a small gift you know s/he would enjoy on the first meeting. A book on a topic of interest, some favorite treat, a toy, etc. Nothing elaborate or it may feel like you’re trying to buy the kid’s affections.
  • Avoid saying anything derogatory about your guy in front of the kid. Don’t put Dad down even if you are kidding. It is okay to play around, but some children may take it out of context and feel you are putting down their beloved dad. Not a good way to start.
  • Talk to your guy about doing something the kid(s) would like on a first outing. So don’t go out to a white-tablecloth restaurant if the kid would rather go to Chilis. The first meeting should be as comfortable as possible for the child, no matter how old.

What have you found works when you meet your guy’s kids for the first time?

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