Meeting your partner’s kid for the first time can be a very frightening experience. For one, there’s the pressure to get it right. You’re aware that the spotlight is on you and that your guy will be watching to see how you interact with one (or more) of the most important people in his life – his child. Then of course, there’s that natural desire to be liked and accepted by the child. However, you’ll quickly realize that there’s no way to control how an initial encounter will play out. But this doesn’t mean there aren’t certain tips and strategies that you can follow to assist in making that first encounter go as smoothly as possible.
First and foremost, you have got to get your mind right! At least, that’s what “Paternity Court’s Judge Lauren Lake says.
“Girl! Let me tell you, when it comes to dating a man with a child, you need to make sure you are mature enough to handle it,” Lake instructs. “You’re not competing with the child or replacing the child’s mother.”
Getting your mind right also includes realizing that it’s wrong to use your partner’s kids to validate your relationship, and of course, it includes making sure that they’re comfortable with you.
“You most certainly shouldn’t try to use the child as leverage to solidify your relationship with your boyfriend,” Judge Lake explains. “As the adult, you have to do everything to make that child as comfortable as possible. You have to respect that the child is figuring everything out right now and will need time and space to do that. Understand that he and his child/children are a package deal. You can’t just ‘deal with’ the child. You have to accept and love the child as an extension of him.”
Once your head is in the right place, Judge Lake has tips to help guide you through that first encounter with ease.
Do let the child take the lead
“You shouldn’t force yourself on him/her and try to create a relationship right away. Some children have to warm up to new people while others are open right away. Respect the child’s personality and let him/her guide the relationship.”
Don’t go into mommy mode immediately
“No matter what the situation is with the child and his/her mother, it’s not your job to replace her. Even if you and the boyfriend are playing house, that doesn’t automatically include his child.”
Do wait until all parties are ready
“Let your boyfriend introduce you to the child when he and his child are ready. Some women pressure their boyfriend to introduce them to his child because it represents taking that next step in your relationship. Yes, this is a sign that things are getting more serious because he is letting you into a sacred space in his life, but it’s not your job to force that to happen.”
Don’t compete with the child
“Don’t be jealous that his child is the apple of his eye. You can’t love him for being a good man and a good father on one hand then resent him for going to every game or recital.”
Don’t bash the child’s mother
“Don’t entertain or get into arguments with the child’s mother. If your boyfriend is upset and venting about a disagreement he may be having with her, it’s not your job to commiserate. Refrain from trash talking about the mother, even to your friends! It would better serve you to try to support and encourage him through it.”
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