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Tips: When your partner has kids from a previous relationship

Tags: step parents, children, mixed families
Content Types: Tips and Advice
Categories: After Separation

Having a partner with children from a previous relationship can be challenging for a number of reasons. In this article, we look at some of the difficulties you may face and how best to deal with them.

Children are a constant reminder of your partner’s previous relationship. You probably accept that your partner’s children are part of ‘the package’ but perhaps you hadn’t counted on the ex being part of it too! The need for your partner to see and communicate with his/her ex can feel threatening if you are not secure within the relationship or if it’s still ‘early days’.  

Top Tip: Remember that part of being a good mum or dad is having a good parenting relationship with the other parent. Accept that there will be communication between your partner and their ex about the children.

You may wonder sometimes where your partner’s loyalties lie – it may seem like his/her previous family’s needs always seem to come before yours.

Top Tip: Try to understand the loyalty conflicts your partner might be experiencing. It will help your relationship if you can empathise (even if you don’t like it!) when your partner feels like ‘piggy in the middle’ between you and his/her previous family.

It can be hard to know what kind of relationship you can expect to have with your partner’s children.

Top Tip: Allow the relationship to develop slowly, don’t expect the children to love you or even like you initially. Aim for a relationship where you respect each other and treat each other fairly. You are not a substitute parent; be supportive but don’t expect to take on a parenting role.

When your partner is having problems with their ex it can put a big strain on your relationship. You want to help but feel powerless to change the situation.

Top Tip: It is important not to take out your frustrations in front of the children as it could make matters worse. So - don’t criticise, complain or even joke about the other parent in front of the children. It’s also probably best if you confine your role to supporting your partner rather than getting directly involved in disagreements.

One practical thing you could do to help is to encourage your partner to use our free online course for practical help in overcoming problems. Try it out here.

If you have questions about how to deal with a new partner and their children, why not share your questions on our online forum?

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  • User-anonymous Anonymous Flag

    And two further suggestions might be
    Don't be tempted to question the children or pry about their life at the other home for you or your partner's gain
    .be careful when talking to friends/ family about the other parent as little people have big ears an can pick up the drift even if it is a telephone conversation !

    Mon 3, Jun 2013 at 2:56pm