Meet His Kids
Q: I just started dating a guy who was divorced a year ago, but we have incredible chemistry and can tell that the relationship is going to last. After two dates, he told me he can't wait for me to meet his kids, ages 5 and 7. I can't wait to meet them too, but do you have any advice for the first gal who is dating dad on what to say and how to make sure our first meeting is a positive experience? -- Sally, 39
Dr. Susan: Since when did good (or even "incredible") chemistry tell anyone something trustworthy? Plenty of relationships begin with super chemistry, but it's just the hormones talking. But you didn't ask about that. You want to get started on the right foot with your guy's children. I'm glad you're giving this first get-together serious thought, as so many would-be stepparents don't. My advice, for you, is to have the tiniest expectations you can possibly have. Kids tend to be extremely loyal to their original parents, so that a stranger in their midst, even one their dad is enamored of (especially one their dad is enamored of) is seen as a threat. So play it cool. Have a plan for the evening so you don't all just hang around feeling awkward. Perhaps you could get a child development book from the library to get clued into the stages 5 and 7 year olds are going through. Don't say dumb things like, "I just know we're going to be great friends," and don't hang all over their dad in front of them. Keep the questions minimal and see if you can get down on the floor and join in their play for a little while. An inexpensive gift for each of them might be nice, but check with their dad and don't get stuff they consider babyish or boringly "educational." Something for one of their collections is always agreeable. Above all, don't take their initial reaction, whatever it is, too much to heart. Give it time.
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Advice for Her
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.