Saturday, June 17, 2023

How best to prepare for meeting your partner’s kids

What you need to know before meeting your partner’s child or children

Doubtless, you feel stick-nervous about meeting your partner’s children for the first time. I suspect you’ve lots of questions about what to expect, how to be, what to do and say and what not.

There’s a ton to consider, and I’m super impressed that you landed here. Clearly, you care enough to want to get it right.

In this article, you’ll discover:

  • How to prepare for meeting your partner’s kids for the first time, including:
  • When and when not is the right time to meet your partner’s children
  • Essential information before agreeing to meet them
  • Expert tips to help you all feel at your best
  • What to do when you’re worried the kids won’t like you

So, I have a ton of information, advice and tips to prepare yourself for meeting your partner, boyfriend or girlfriend’s children.

Let’s talk first, though, about when it’s the best time to meet them.

Welcome, regardless of your gender

Where possible, I intend to use ‘they’ and ‘them’ instead of ‘he’ and ‘she’ in my articles. Instead of ‘boyfriend’ and ‘girlfriend’, I use ‘partner’.

In my articles about marriage, I use ‘partner’ and ‘spouse’ with occasionally ‘husband’ and ‘wife’. In some, though, I may focus on a specific gender.

I’d like you to feel seen, accepted and welcomed, regardless of gender.

Please bear with me, though. I’m still working through my articles to implement that intent.

When to wait meeting your partner’s children

Naturally, you’d want to avoid setting yourself up for failure. So, you’ll want to think twice about meeting your partner’s kids when the circumstances are less than ideal for a first-time meetup.

When neither the kids nor the parents are ready for you

It’s unlikely to be a good idea for you to meet the kids for the first time:

  • When you’re having an affair (at least while both parents are still living together or have only recently split up).
    The other parent will likely do all they can to make your life miserable. The children almost certainly will take the side of the injured parent. They’ll be totally against you from the word go (and you’ll know all about it!)
  • When the parents broke up relatively recently, the children won’t have had sufficient time to adjust to this life-changing upheaval.
  • When the breakup was particularly contentious, and both parents have yet to learn to parent their children cooperatively.
  • When the kids’ living arrangements have been or are still insecure since the breakup
  • When they haven’t had a chance to settle into their new routine
  • When your partner doesn’t want to tell the other parent that the children are meeting you (for kids who are likely to guess what meeting the new ‘friend’ entails.

In any of the above circumstances, you can decide to patiently wait until things settle in the family or run a mile!

When you‘re not ready to be introduced to the kids

  • When you’re not absolutely sure you want to become a carer for or stepparent to someone else’s children
  • When you don’t like children having a relationship with a single parent is asking for trouble. Second marriages already have a much higher failure rate!
  • When you’re going through a difficult time, you’ll need to exude comfort, calm, empathy, adaptability and patience – all probably in short supply when you’re not feeling your best.
  • When you’re new out of a relationship (see the above point)
  • You’re dating, barely knowing where the relationship will lead.

How to tell your partner you’re not ready to meet their children

You can use whatever reason from the above list that applies to you as a starting point.

You might say something like:

“I’d love to meet your children, of course, when the time is right. However, right now, I think/know …, therefore I feel … and would love to wait until ….”

Does none of the above apply to you? Or, if you’ve decided to keep the occasion so low-key that none of those conditions matter, read on.

Get a professional therapist to help you

Because you’re worthy of reliable help and support.

  • Individual therapy online
  • Couples therapy – online, so very near you
  • 1 live session à 45 min/week (video, voice or text)
  • Unlimited messaging
  • Change therapists with a click of a button
  • Therapy on a secure & confidential platform
  • Three subscription alternatives
  • Cancel or upgrade your subscription at any time.

Click the button to get started…

Before agreeing to meet your partner’s children

You need to know if your partner is the kind of person with whom you want to co-parent – without making any judgements about rights or wrongs (90% of mothers and 85% of fathers feel judged!)

It’s all very well that you are falling in love with them, but becoming a step-parent/carer to their kids is a whole different ballgame. It’s hard! I can promise you that parenting together will test your relationship.

So, try to answer the following questions for yourself before you agree to meet your partner’s kids:

To judge their (misplaced?) eagerness

  • How often have they introduced new partners to their kids?
  • At what stage of the relationship did their kids meet the potential life partner?
  • What was their choice of venue – child appropriate or suited to the adults’ needs?

Your ideas about the above matter.

What is the relationship like between your partner and their ex?

  • Have they sufficiently disconnected emotionally? Or are there signs of longing or excessive anger and resentment?
  • Are they showing any signs of self-reflection and owning their mistakes? Do they talk about what they’d do better this time around?
  • Do they (attempt to) communicate consistently with their ex about the children’s needs? Or do the two of them appear to argue about it all the time?
  • With whom do the children spend most of their time?

Your views about all this matter.

How do they appear to parent?

  • How involved with the kids do you gather they have been in the past and now?
  • Do you see evidence of consistent parenting – not swinging from loving to critical and even abusive?
  • Do they seem capable of lovingly setting consistent boundaries? Or is the children’s behaviour ‘managed’ with promises of sweets, presents and outings?

The above tips will give you an indication of how your partner is likely to parent. It’s up to you now to decide if this is the kind of person with whom you want to parent a bunch of kids.

When it’s the right time to meet your partner’s children

So, in summary, the best time to meet your partner’s children is when the parents, you and the children are ready for it. What precisely that means you’ve, hopefully, been able to deduct from all of the above.

Let’s now set you up for a successful meeting.

How your partner can best introduce you will depend on a few conditions, such as:

  • The age of the children
  • Their other biological parent’s feelings, attitude and behaviours toward the kids and their other parent since the breakup. Are they kindly inclined and cooperative or mean, argumentative and in no way wanting their kids to acquire a new ‘parent’? Because that matters a lot to the children!
  • How long ago the parents broke up. You’ll want to discuss how the children have adjusted with your partner.
  • The length and the stage of your relationship. Is there real potential you’ll stay together? Then, of course, you’ll want to learn more about this huge part of your partner’s life.

Decide with your partner if they should introduce you as just a ‘friend’, someone they really like or a potential life partner.

Expert tips for meeting your partner’s kids for the first time

6 tips to help you feel at your best

  1. You need to feel relatively (at this stage) confident that your partner is the sort of parent you want to get to know better from what you’ve gathered so far.
  2. You need to feel involved in deciding how, where and when you’ll meet your partner’s children. Though, please take into consideration that he knows his children, so his opinion might need to carry more weight.
  3. You’ll need to feel some control over the situation. For example, you might want to have the opportunity to withdraw yourself for a few minutes or a while without that being (made into) an issue. Therefore, you’ll have discussed the possibilities with your partner.
  4. It has to be fun, not only for the children but also for you and your partner. Opportunities for laughter would make it even better.
  5. You’ll need to feel safe and secure – you’ll need to know that your partner won’t undermine you in any way (not now and not ever). At the same time, understand that they, too, are likely to be nervous. They may not be entirely themselves, and the children will likely pick up on that! Accept that the children’s well-being is their main priority.
  6. Be curious, but don’t bombard the kids with questions. If they tell you something, you might say: “Wow, you sound so excited/proud/enthusiastic about that. I’d love to know more.” That means giving and receiving attention.

How to help the children to feel at their best

Guess what?

They’ll need almost the same conditions!

Ideally, your partner would have kept the announcement of meeting you pretty low-key. It’s best to avoid building it up to be a big thing at this stage. Going out and meeting a ‘friend’ is all that young kids need. Teenagers are likely smart enough to realise there’s more to it. So, being open and honest about why you’re meeting up may be the best strategy.

4 tips to helping your partner feel at their best

  1. Let them express how they feel about the occasion. Don’t judge them or say they don’t need to feel like that. Simply say something like: “It’s totally understandable you feel ….”
  2. Reassure them that you’re nervous/tense/apprehensive but looking forward to meeting their children.
  3. Your partner will (secretly) fear you judging their kids. Whether or not you already have children, you’ll have a view on how they ‘should’ behave. Your job is to become super aware of those judgements and shelve them for now.
  4. Tell your partner you’re going with an open mind, realising that it may feel a little awkward for all. Accept and reassure them that perhaps none of you (except maybe the very youngest kids) will likely feel and be your usual self.

Worried your partner’s kids won’t accept or like you?

That’s a really understandable fear. The health and future of your relationship may well depend on how your partner’s children receive you.

The best way I can prepare you for that is by referring you to my articles:

  • What to do if your partner’s children don’t like you
  • How to deal with adult children ruining your relationship.

I know the latter, in particular, sounds pretty severe. But if you understand how to avoid such tricky situations in advance, you’re likely to feel more confident.


After reading this article, I hope you feel more confident meeting your partner’s children for the first time. You’ve got plenty of tips to help you and your partner to make well-thought-through choices.

We’ve talked about when it’s a good time to meet the kids for the first time and when not.

Know that you’re far braver, more resilient and more capable than you might be giving yourself credit for.

You’ve got this!

Get a professional therapist to help you

Because you’re worthy of reliable help and support.

  • Individual online therapy
  • Online couples therapy
  • 1 live session à 45 min/week (video, voice or text)
  • Unlimited messaging
  • Change therapists with a click of a button
  • Therapy on a secure & confidential platform
  • Three subscription alternatives
  • Cancel or upgrade your subscription at any time.

Click the button and…

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest Articles