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Meeting His Adult Kids: How To Survive

You’ve reached a major turning point in your relationship. He wants to introduce you to his kids. What a vote of confidence! Apart from unwise wardrobe choices, what could go wrong?

Ideally, his kids feel bad that their father is alone and they want him to find a companion. The reality? They’re not sure you’re right for the role.

Let me say up front that I think it’s inexcusable for adult children to rain on the parade of a divorced or widowed parent who is lucky enough to find a kindly, compatible someone. I say this because the motives of these dissenters are often selfish. On the other hand, some apprehension is normal, and you’ll be wise to approach this first meeting with patience and good will.


Fear that you’re replacing their mother – When kids ask, “She won’t be replacing Mom, will she?” as they often do, he owes them the reassurance they need. For your part, it’s wise not to act proprietary. Keep your hands to yourself. “We’re just fond friends” is a good opening act.

Suspicion that you’re after their inheritance – This is no time to look like a struggling single. Dress for success. Wear some tasteful but enormously expensive jewelry. If you don’t own costly baubles, borrow them. You can accelerate the process even more by wearing also the patrician air of one who fears SHE may be the one to fear gold digging.

Feeling you’ll intrude on family fun – Warm weekend and holiday moments around the family dining table – how can such generational bonding survive an interloper? Stay demure at family gatherings until they get used to you. Eventually they’ll start thinking you belong there.

Resentment of him – They may not actually like him (!). As your relationship matures, you will win their gratitude by helping to shoulder the burden they thought he was. Alternatively, you can work to make family gatherings less wearisome for all by making them less frequent.

Concerns about your independence – They won’t want you to be clingy. Meanwhile, they’ll be evaluating your nursing potential — for when he’ll need care and attention they’ll be too busy to give him.  Let them see your compassionate side, but keep them guessing about the limits of your capacity for self-sacrifice.

Embarrassment – Some kids react with disgust to the idea that their over-the-hill dad is having sex. Don’t unbalance them – no sexy glances, no grabbing, no innuendo. But don’t overdo the chastity bit. His sons will be looking to him to demolish their secret fear that sex may be over at 45.

Protecting the grandchildren – His kids’ claim that their children will suffer confusion is mostly a cover-up for their own fears. Young children are resilient and will almost always take a grandparent’s actions in stride – unless, of course, they’ve been primed with negative feelings. Never try to buy little kids with gifts and sweet talk. Smile at them nicely, stay away from annoying and meaningless questions (“How do you like school?”), and wait for them to acknowledge you (they will).

“She’s not in his class” – I have to assume you’ve behaved with dignity, gentle good humor, and generosity of spirit. If that’s the case, his kids’ whine that he’s too good for you is just another jab at your credibility.  Here’s where your man needs to stand up for his rights — and yours. If he’s too intimidated or too uncommitted to do so, you may want to question the value of your relationship. Unless I’m mistaken, you didn’t sign up for a tabloids-style war with someone’s unyielding offspring.

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'Meeting His Adult Kids: How To Survive' have 20 comments

  1. August 3, 2017 @ 2:56 pm Sienna

    Mayra — I admire your sensitive approach to this dilemma. You are right to refrain from pressuring him for an introduction, but don’t let your patience go on too long. It’s not wrong to ask for his honest assessment of whether news of your relationship would trouble his kids. You don’t say what was the reason for the divorce, but if he is the aggrieved party, they might be happy he has a companion. On the other hand, if their mother has convinced them that he was at fault, more caution is required. Thank you for your comment. I hope everything works out for you.

  2. August 2, 2017 @ 9:51 pm Mayra

    Dating a guy for 2 yrs, saw him through his divorce (she did everything she could to destroy his relationship with his adult kids and his reputation in the community). Kids are finally re-establishing their relationship with him, which has been all he’s wanted! He’s so wounded and doesn’t want to go thru that again. We are at least 6 months away from any intros but am scared he won’t be able to do it because he doesn’t want to lose them again. I cant be kept as a secret forever but they were terrible to him as well so I don’t think I should be in any hurry for an intro! I feel for everyone whose written on this page…going through this is so hard but I love him enough to try.

  3. January 3, 2017 @ 5:46 pm Pegge

    I want to respond to Ashley. I had a similar situation except that he NEVER introduced me to his friends much less his family. I gave up after a year and a half because I couldn’t stand fooling myself any longer. Don’t wait too long, honey, but don’t blame him if he doesn’t come around because it’s most likely his kids are too selfish to let him be happy.

  4. January 1, 2017 @ 10:39 pm Ashley

    Feedback appreciated. I’m dating someone whose sons are several weeks younger than me (literally) and a few years younger. We’ve been dating seriously for seven months. We’ve had a group dinner, including some of my partner’s dear friends, with the younger son. There’s been no mention of me meeting the eldest son, other family meetings, meeting his grandchildren, etc. I’ve never dated someone with children before so this is quite a leap. Am I being anxious wanting to be included in meeting, spending time with his immediate family? Should I cool my jets till we’re together a year? We’ve spoken about marriage and that’s the agreed direction of the relationship, in terms of seriousness. In fairness, I haven’t introduced him to my parents (I have no siblings or children).

  5. November 27, 2016 @ 3:00 pm Sienna

    LaDonna — It wouldn’t be unusual for his kids to worry about the age difference before they meet you, but when they see that you are sincere and you make their father happy, they will surely be happy about your relationship. I hope the Thanksgiving meeting went well….please let us know!

  6. November 24, 2016 @ 2:15 am LaDonna

    I’m dating a man six months older than my mother. We are getting serious. I’ve met his two adopted daughters that are teens. That was good. Now, I will be meeting his adult daughter that is only ten years younger than me on Thanksgiving. We have things in common other than a love for her father. But I’m still very anxious. I’m excited but so nervous.

  7. June 11, 2015 @ 9:40 pm Sienna

    Helena — The secret of creating a pleasing appearance is expressing yourself with confidence. It’s no handicap to have a great figure. Dressing in a way that makes you feel you’re true to yourself is half of it. The other half is dressing in a way that will seem attractive to your guy and his daughters. That probably doesn’t include wearing old tee shirts or someone else’s baggy clothing.

    You can never go wrong with a classic style. Cutting your hair was a good first step. Try wearing a well-fitted pair of tailored slacks with a simple knit top. Choose small button earrings (no dangles, no glitz). If bustiness is your problem, try wearing a minimizer bra that rounds your breasts primly under a blouse or sweater. Put your best foot forward. Believe in yourself.

  8. June 6, 2015 @ 1:45 pm Helena

    You can probably tell by my email address that I happen to work as a relationship coach and psychic. You’d think that would be the ideal combination; that I’d know exactly how to present myself to gain approval of my guy’s adult children. However, I can already tell that I wouldn’t be accepted. I can tell that they’ll not be impressed at all. I look like a stripper from Florida regardless of what clothing I happen to choose. I honestly have one of those bodies that clothing hangs on like….a stripper. Or a bag lady if they’re too loose. Matronly. As a result, I have to be extra careful, no matter what I happen to put on and when. In addition I happen to HATE shopping more than anything else in the world. Really. And I am terrible when it comes to communication. I remember my ex’s family meeting me for the first time. I wore my mother’s big active wear top with a picture of a boat on it and one of her too-big, roomy pairs of shorts that hang to your knees (Kulots?) with no jewelry… And they took him aside, asked him if I was a stripper. Recently, I went hiking with my now-guy and he showed his daughters photos from the trip. The only thing she said was, ?She looks like she has implants.” I was working in the yard with him recently, had on an old tee shirt and old denim shorts (both long) and he said “you forgot to put on your over shirt when my daughter came outside to join us.” In other words, if I don’t cover up, I look like a stripper no matter what, and even when I DO cover up, I look like this. There’s no way to change my body overnight, so I cancelled the dinner my guy had planned to formally introduce me to his girls. Because apparently, regardless of what I wear, I look…like a working girl by the hour. Would you have any advice on how to hide my shape? I’ve already cut my mid-back length wavy hair last month to a short bob to look “less stripper-ish.” Apparently, didn’t help. Advice, please?

  9. October 28, 2014 @ 10:59 am Lisa H

    Dealing with the kids is tough. They can be pretty nice, but you always wonder if they’re wishing you would go away. Some kids are very possessive about their fathers, and they are always afraid he will love you more than he loved their mom, or them, and afraid that you’ll trick him into spending “their” money.

  10. March 31, 2013 @ 10:37 am Percy

    A friend of mine met a nice woman and after they dated for a while he wanted to take her to meet his kids. When he went to pick her up she was wearing an outlandish outfit and make up she must have put on with a trowel. He told her the kids had to go somewhere at the last minute, and he didn’t take her.

  11. December 30, 2012 @ 9:28 pm Mgirl

    Knowing how to deal with grandchildren is important, as you say. I pay attention to them, but I never make a fuss. Not too long ago I visited my current guy friend’s son and his family and when we were getting ready to leave, his six year old granddaughter said, “Grandpa, she’ll be okay.”

  12. December 2, 2012 @ 5:25 am Maureen Tomola

    find me a serious man in his 60+ from Europe Please for a long lasting relationship leading to marriage. with kids fine.

  13. December 1, 2012 @ 12:45 pm CGCarol

    This is funny, but not too funny when you are actually going through this. I have met his kids and have been there three times. They are polite, and it is difficult to know how they really feel. I’m not sure how I feel, either. So far I like this man, but he doesn’t actually feel like Mr. Right.

  14. July 22, 2012 @ 6:20 pm May

    My sister is going through this. The kids are acting pretty nice to her while she’s there with him, but they are mean to her on the sly, and very cold when he’s out of earshot. I think she’s in for a nasty surprise, if not now later.

  15. May 19, 2012 @ 10:25 am Tracey

    I had an experience that was a real turnoff for me. I wasn’t far along in the relationship and I met the man’s two daughters. They were very cold and I stopped seeing him before I got too involved, because this wasn’t going to change. I think they thought I was out for his money. Funny, because I’m sure I had more than he did.

  16. December 24, 2011 @ 5:38 pm Sienna

    Penelope, thanks so much for your comment. You’re so right that it’s not at all about replacement. In fact, I honestly feel that being open to and achieving a healthy new relationship is a tribute to the previous one.

  17. December 24, 2011 @ 9:10 am Penelope

    I think it’s fabulous to have your parent find someone they enjoy. In my experience, it’s not about replacing someone, it’s about trying to enjoy your life and the best way to do that is with a companion. It’s never the same as before, just different. And that’s okay.

  18. December 22, 2011 @ 2:00 pm Renee Fisher

    These are important issues. Whew. I’m lucky that, having remarried a man who had no children, I have never had that issue.

  19. December 22, 2011 @ 1:55 pm Alicia

    Funny thing. I usually manage to charm the grandchildren and not the grandfather lol.

  20. December 22, 2011 @ 1:35 pm LB

    Well said, Sienna. I’ve witnessed that “Suspicion that you’re after their inheritance” syndrome acted out in the extreme!

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