The Blended Family Challenge

The blended family challenge: Can kids stand in the way of relationship happiness? Will kids outgrow their dislike of a stepmom? Will a stepparent outgrow their dislike of the kids?

Dear Dr. Doris:

I’ve been dating the love of my life for three years. He’s hinting about engagement during the holidays. Naturally I’m excited. I find myself dreaming about our wedding and spending the rest of our lives together. I don’t have children, but he has two. Unfortunately, they’re brats. We spend time with them every other weekend and at other non-scheduled times. I really don’t the kids and they don’t like me.

My question is … do I allow them to stand in the way of my happiness or should I just be satisfied with the time I do have with my boyfriend when they’re not around? I love him and don’t want to lose him, but I know these kids aren’t going off to college any time soon. I’ve talked to my boyfriend a little bit about this, but I’m careful because these are his kids and of course they always come first. He says they’ll grow out of it and I have nothing to worry about.

What should I do? Is our married future in jeopardy? I’m just not happy being unhappy around his kids. Any thoughts on what to do? Should I just move on . . . or struggle to be a stepparent?

Cindy from Chicago

Dear Cindy from Chicago,

After dating your honey for three years, you still think his kids are brats. This is a huge red flag.

Parenting someone else’s children is very challenging, especially during the first couple of years. You’re just now peeking at the tip of a giant iceberg looming ahead. If you marry your boyfriend, you’ll face a lifetime of issues related to your stepchildren’s needs, communication with your mate’s ex and financial issues. As you said, his kids need to come first.

If your partner says, “Don’t worry, the kids will get over it,” he’s naïve about what it takes to build a firm foundation for a blended family.

You say you don’t like his kids. Over time, that will create a chasm between you and your Sweetie because he loves them very much.

Since you don’t have children of your own, you’ll struggle to learn parenting skills without the advantage of a blood relationship. Being a natural parent spontaneously creates unconditional love. Kinship feeds the patience and forgiveness that are required to raise kids.

The job description for children includes, “Constantly test adult boundaries, patience and parenting skills.” Work with a qualified relationship coach before you walk a path toward heartache.

Take advantage of some of the free relationship ebooks I’ve written. Download your Free Relationship Ebooks at Also, make sure you receive free dating advice and relationship tips every week. Sign up for the “More Joy Ezine” at

To your relationship joy,

Dr. Doris
Your Relationship Coach
Doris Helge, Ph.D.

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