Eight Tips to Help You Deal With Your Partner's Children

Eight Tips to Help You Deal With Your Partner's Children

Last update: 03 November, 2021

Many people have the dream of rebuilding a family. However, it’s no easy task. In fact, when you start a new relationship with someone who has children, not knowing how to treat them can be a real obstacle. It can sometimes even put an end to the relationship.

When two people decide to separate, the children don’t have a say in that decision. However, they still have to go through the process of the break-up and later adapt to a new life. For this reason, introducing a third person into the equation is often difficult for them.

Indeed, in this kind of scenario, it’s common for complications to appear that must be dealt with. If you find yourself in this situation, in this article we give you eight tips for creating the most positive situation possible.

Eight tips to help you deal with your partner’s children

The first thing you should know is that each family is different. Therefore, you need to assess the situation accordingly. However, there are certain guidelines that you can use in order to build a healthy relationship with your partner’s children. Here are eight of them.

1. Overcome the temptation to try and replace the other parent

It’s easy to think that your role is to act as their guardian since you’re the partner of one of their parents. However, remember that you’re not. Furthermore, they won’t consider you as such.

The most typical conflicts arise from this kind of situation. You may well find that the children don’t recognize your authority and misbehave as a form of rebellion against your attempts at control.

However, your relationship with your partner’s children must be built from scratch and in harmony with the relationship you have with your partner. The children don’t need to think of you as their new guardian. As a matter of fact, what’s needed is a culture of respect and caring among all members of the family.

Man talking to his partner's daughter in the kitchen

2. Living together as a gradual process

If the relationship progresses, and you decide to start living together, it’s best that you make this change gradually. In this way, you can make adjustments bit by bit and resolve any conflicts that would otherwise threaten your coexistence.

You should also learn how to handle your partner’s children before starting to live with them. Otherwise, it’ll be like living with strangers and you probably just won’t get along at all.

3. Spend quality time with them

The best way to bond is by sharing pleasant moments together. Look for common interests, fun activities, or contexts that facilitate relaxed interaction. In this way, you’ll not only get along better, but you’ll also open up pathways to getting to know each other better.

4. Don’t meddle with their education

Especially at the beginning, education and the rules of coexistence must be set by the parent. Your task will be to adapt as much as you can and adjust the relationship and coexistence as all family members get used to the change in routine.

You must respect what your partner decides regarding the education of their children. Your opinion may be valid, but you must express it in a way that doesn’t undermine their authority or create a conflict of any kind. In fact, your authority over your partner’s children will always be based on their rules.

5. Study your partner’s relationship with their children

You must understand that your partner’s priority is caring for the people for whom they’re responsible. That doesn’t make your relationship any less special nor does it imply that you’re not as important to them as their children. They’re simply different kinds of love and each one has its own characteristics.

6. Set your own boundaries

You too have needs and your own ways of adapting. In the same way that you’re committed to adapting and taking on a specific role, your partner and your children mustn’t ask you to do things that you simply can’t do.

You can agree on these boundaries together with the whole family. However, discuss them with your partner first or establish them as your relationship and coexistence progress. The important thing is to do it with respect and understanding for all three parties.

7. Establish a cordial relationship with your partner’s ex

This is usually a delicate topic. However, it would be really convenient that, at a minimum, you avoid conflicts with your partner’s ex.

Although it’s true that these kinds of situations can be extremely complicated, you have to make it clear that your intentions are not to cause any problems in this matter or in the relationship of the children with their parents.

8. See a professional

If you find yourselves at a difficult point that seems to be unsolvable, it’s a good idea to go to family or couples therapy.  That’s because it’s often hard to see your way out of a situation when you’re so involved.

In addition, if there’s a special circumstance in your new family such as an illness or an abusive situation,  professional support can be extremely beneficial.

Couple therapy, one of the tips to help you deal with your partners children.

The three best tools are honesty, respect, and humility

Finally, keep in mind that your ultimate aim is to be a family. Your partner’s children may not have grown up with you, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t be happy together. Nor does it mean that they have to stop loving their biological parents.

Therefore, the only truly universal guideline for dealing with your partner’s children – and anyone, really – is to try to do your best. Put sincerity, respect, and humility first, and affection will come on its own.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • González Martín, B. (2001). La mediación familiar: una intervención para abordar la ruptura de pareja. Medifam11(10), 56-60.
  • Fellmann, I. E., & FREIRE, A. G. M. (2003). Familias reconstituidas: Un estudio sobre las nuevas estructuras familiares. Clínica y salud14(3), 301-332.
  • Bou, F. N. C., Walters-Pacheco, K. Z., & Serrano-García, I. (2008). Cambios…¿ Cómo influyen en los y las adolescentes de familias reconstituidas?. Revista Interamericana de Psicología/Interamerican Journal of Psychology42(1), 91-100.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.