I met my soon-to-be-stepson two months after I started dating his mother. It was kind of surreal and kind of awkward, to tell you the truth. My future wife did not mention him. It was actually the topic of conversation on our second date.
It is still so vivid in my memory. This woman, whom I only knew as Susan, wore a red cocktail dress. She had dangling earrings with red lipstick and matching red nail polish. But what I most remember on that night were her words:
“You are a great person. And I will not judge you if you back out. But I have a son from another man. If you still want to pursue me, you must accept me for who I am, a woman with a son.”
I had dated a lot of women with kids before. I would get scared easily the moment I heard the letters K-I-D. But with her, it was different. I was still willing to date her despite knowing that she had a 7-year old son. I don’t know. Probably because I just love her.
The Dating Game
So we continued dating because I said to her that I still wanted to get to know her more. We talked about me, about her, and about her son. Sometimes, our topic would be her former husband.
Dating is all about knowing each other more. You can find a lot of other things that can cause you to stop dating someone. Of course, having a kid who is not your own has its own implications. But this is why dating was invented. You can get into the life of another person through deep conversations and spending time together.
The Day I Met My Stepson
And then the fateful day that we could finally meet arrived. His name is Tom. The court had assigned his dad scheduled days when he could visit Tom. And despite the divorce, Susan and her ex-spouse are on good terms.
I arrived early at the store – an ice cream shop, his favorite dining place. And there they were, Susan and Tom.
It was my first time actually meeting a son of the person I am dating. It was kind of scary, entering the unknown. But it was not as difficult as I imagined.
I introduced myself to him. And he said his name to me. We bought ice cream. We walked in the park, where he spent most of his time running and chasing squirrels. After the day was over, I brought them to their apartment, and I went home.
Susan and I are now in year two of our marriage. And my relationship with Tom is also getting stronger. My family may not be perfect in a lot of ways, but it is surely one that I want to belong to. I also want you to feel the same joy that I am feeling with Susan and Tom.
Get to Know Your Stepson As Early As Possible.
It was me who wanted to meet the little boy. Since I was dating his mother, I might as well meet the kid who could someday be my child, too.
I had the cleanest of intentions with Susan. I was not dating just to flirt and to sleep with women. I wanted long-lasting relationships that could possibly end up in marriage. This is why I wanted to get to know the child as well as the mother.
It is also not that uncommon. Susan, as a young 35- year old, opted to remarry at least once. According to statistics collected by PewSocialTrends, around 57 percent within the range of 35 to 44 remarries.
I wanted to spend as much time as possible with Tom. I wanted to know more about him. I wanted to understand his likes, his dislikes, his favorites, and his pet peeves. But most of all, I wanted to have a feel of whether or not we could be a fit.
I believe that men dating women with a kid should do this. They should date not only the woman, but also the kid. Because, let’s face it, you are not only entering a relationship with the mother. You are also going to have a relationship with the child.
Date the kid. Know what he feels like doing. Take note of his favorite places to go to. And understand his thoughts and his actions. By getting to know him more, you can be a better stepdad in the future.
What if the relationship with the mother does not push through? It is okay. You still gained a new friend in the form of her son or daughter.
Be Genuine in Your Intentions.
Kids know when you are lying. The one thing that you should never do in front of a kid is lie. Either he tells you right away that you are not an honest person or he tells his mother that you cannot be trusted.
To be a great stepdad, you must be genuine in your intentions. If you don’t feel like getting along with the sons and daughters of your spouse, they will immediately sense it. You cannot put on a mask and pretend that you are enjoying your time with them.
What should you do? It depends on the age of the kids. If the kid has a keen sense of understanding, I would suggest that you just come clean and say it. “I want to know you more and become your friend. I want to enjoy your company and spend more time with you.”
If you love the mother, you should love the kids as well. One can never exist without the other. You are only hurting one or the other if you pretend to love just one of the two.
Do not Force It.
Just like any other kind of relationship, you cannot force it to happen instantly. You have to let it mature and grow naturally. You have to make an effort to nurture it and let the child know that you care.
Eventually, when the kid sees that you really love them, they will reciprocate with the love that they feel from you.
What can you do? You just follow through on the plans that you make with them. Whether they show their appreciation or not, it is okay. Put yourself in their shoes. They see a man who is dating their mother and this man is not their father.
This situation can be too complicated for the kids to understand. But be as patient as possible with them. Soon, your efforts will pay off and you will experience the same love that you give them.
Know Your Boundaries As The Non-Biological Parent.
Respect the boundaries that have been placed by the kids. You should not disregard the fact that you are not the biological parent of these children. If they do not feel the connection with you, then let them approach their mother. If they seek an authoritative figure, then let them go to their biological father.
What matters is that you are always present when they need you. If they want to share a personal problem with you, then you should be ready to lend an ear to them. This may come at the most unexpected time, so you have to be prepared for it. Leave what you are doing, sit down with the child and listen to what he has to say.
As he opens up more to you as his stepdad, you are also opening the door wider for him to be closer to you.
Do not Enforce Discipline Right Away.
I believe that all discipline should be conducted with the intention of restoration. You cannot just discipline a child without restoring the relationship or restoring a behavior that has gone bad because of circumstances. You must have this mindset first.
Next, you cannot enforce discipline unless you are trusted by the child to be the person of authority. Again, this can only be developed through time. If you do not have a close relationship yet, then you should not discipline right away.
What if he misbehaves? It is best to let the mother do the disciplining. She has more authority than you right now. But don’t let this last for years. In time, it should be you who must restore the child so that he will grow up in the way that he should.
Marrying and being with the woman of your dreams is a great feeling to have. Getting a bonus kid is even better in my opinion. It means more people to love and more family to grow into. But you should make every effort possible to reach out, not just to your wife, but to the kid as well. It will bring you the utmost joy and happiness. This, I am most sure of.