Whether you're a mom or not, meeting your boyfriend's children may make you anywhere from slight uneasy to super stressed. According to HealthyChildren.org, roughly 20 percent of kids who are living in two-parent homes are part of blended families. If you think your relationship is headed to the altar, setting the stage for a fully functional blended family now is key. Take a breath, relax and approach the first meeting as your true self, letting your beau's kids know just how important he is -- and they are -- to you.
Ask your boyfriend to tell you when he thinks his children will be ready to meet you. Avoid pressing the matter, and let him come up with his own timetable based on his and his kids' comfort levels.
Get the specifics. Ask your beau how old his children are, if you don't already know, and what their likes or dislikes are. Prepare yourself by knowing what to expect by way of his advice and descriptions.
Make sure your boyfriend talks to his children about you and the meeting before it actually happens. Ask him to tell the children about who you are, your job, what you look like, what he likes about you and your own children -- if you have any.
Set your expectations at a realistic level for the first face-to-face meeting. Avoid expecting that the children will immediately run to you, greeting you with a shower of hugs and kisses. Stay positive, but don't go into the meet-up with the idea that they will automatically see you as their new mommy. Remember that every relationship takes time to build.
Greet the children with a warm smile. Strike up a conversation that focuses on their interests. Talk about your own children and their similar interests, if you have kids.
Come up with a fun-filled activity or kid-friendly place to meet, such as bowling, ice skating or eating a pizza lunch at the kids' favorite restaurant. Keep the first meeting brief, limiting it to a meal or an hour or so of playtime. Build on this later on, moving on to full-day activities. Keep the children's ages in mind when meeting them. According to the pediatric pros at the KidsHealth website, younger children typically have an easier adjustment period when it comes to a parent's significant other than older kids do. Suggest age-appropriate activities or even consider bringing a small toy for a younger child as a gift.
Cut out the PDA with your boyfriend during the meeting. His children likely aren't used to seeing him with a woman who isn't their mother. Avoid kissing and hugging -- or even holding hands -- until after you have built an understanding relationship with the children. Avoid sticky subjects, such as the child's poor grades, during the beginning of your relationship. Don't discipline or reprimand the children. Even if your boyfriend's preschooler throws a tantrum at lunch, let him deal with the child instead of stepping in. Don't spend the night at your boyfriend's house after the meeting. This may confuse the children and leave them wondering if you are trying to replace their mother.