Sharing Your Pride and Joy

When you and your sweetheart both have kids from previous relationships, you have a lot to share. Each of you thinks of your offspring as your pride and joy. But to your sweetie, they are much more.

They are a reflection of you. They may or may not look like you. But they act in ways that you have encouraged, or at least tolerated. This can be a good thing, or a bad thing, or both.

Short and Sweet
As you become close with your lover, you're both thinking about how to spend stress-free, fun time with your kids and each other. Start with a relatively short, low-pressure meet and greet. Eating dinner out is okay if the kids are older and relatively independent. If the children are small and tend to misbehave or have picky taste buds, then you're asking for trouble by exposing your sweetie to those hassles for the first group date.

Early on, it's smart to find some activities that you all can enjoy. Try attending something outdoors like a minor league baseball game or a music festival. Keep it varied so you can meet all the kids' interests.

Special Treats
While you're working to introduce both sets of families, preserve some one-on-one time with your own kids. Avoid sharing your special parent-child outings with your sweetie until a good bond has formed. Otherwise, your children may view your lover as an interloper. Keep doing special things alone with your kids no matter how well your adult relationship is progressing.

Compromising Positions
If you and your honey eventually get serious, you‘ll want to form a family unit with both sets of kids. That's when things can get really tricky. If your parenting styles are really different, you're going to have to use some heavy-duty negotiation skills.

The worst thing you can do is try to impose your rules on your sweetie's children without talking about it together first. If your approach to shared parenting is “my way or the highway,” you might be surprised to see your honey leaving skid marks and an exhaust trail before you can blink.

Compromise is the key. Ideally, you'll learn some new strategies from your sweetie that will work with both sets of kids. While your children are growing, maybe you all can develop increased tolerance and collaboration skills.

Valuable Time
It's great that you're making the effort to bond and blend with your kids. But don't forget to spend plenty of alone time as a couple. If that means hiring expensive baby sitters, then so be it. The reason you came together is your special connection. Nurturing that one-on-one relationship will make all the effort to extend the love to the younger generation worthwhile.

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