Things are really picking up in your relationship; things are great! This partnership has progressed to the point that you finally get to meet the kids. Uh-oh, this is where the problem starts. You don’t have to be a parent to recognize a difficult child when you see one. However, all is not lost. With a few simple steps you can figure out where you stand in this new parenting journey.
1. Have a candid and judgement free conversation
One thing parents really hate about raising children is having other people judge them. Parents often feel pressure under the spotlight of the general public. Many think that they are judged as a person based upon the behavior of their child. Taking the time to have a private conversation with your significant other about parenting and their children can go a long way to save the relationship.
2. Know your role
There are times the children may want to immediately replace their biologic parent with you (after all, you are a much better choice.) There are other times that there is resistance to a new ‘parental’ figure in their life. Make sure you understand your role from your partner so that you can work together.
3. Establish house rules
If your partner is still having problems managing the kids, you can introduce house rules when they come for a visit. You can have a list of written rules or use gentle but firm requests for the children to follow. Using a statement like “In this house we don’t eat on the couch” or “in this house we talk to each other with respect; talking back is disrespectful” can go a long way in modifying behavior.
4. Understand the reason for the behavior
When children grow up in a split family household, there can be a lot of common reasons which cause poor behavior. For instance, children want to protect their parent as they may have witnessed trauma or violence in their past. You may be perceived as a threat. This alone may be a reason for the poor behavior. Take some time to understand the root cause of the behavior.
5. Get some help
If you notice that your partner has some Bad @$$ Kids, don’t let them scare you away. Following these tips can help you find your place in the family unit and it will turn a negative into a positive. After all, if you’re serious about this person, you want to do everything you can to make their life better including managing their kids.
Jarret “Doctor Jarret” Patton MD FAAP is a board-certified pediatrician, behavioral coach, and best-selling author of Whose Bad @$$ Kids Are Those? A Parent’s Guide to Behavior for Children of all Ages. Join him for Two “Sense” Tuesdays at 1:00PM ET on Facebook Live @doctorjarret.