Thursday April 19 2018

How to cope with your partner’s children

Do not expect the children to love or even like

Do not expect the children to love or even like you straight away. Aim for a relationship where you respect each other and treat each other fairly.  

By Christine Katende

Richard recently got married to a mother of two. Jane had been abandoned by her baby daddy who did not want anything to do with the two children. When they met, Jane’s last born was in top class and Richard embraced the two children whom he often refers to as “my lovely angels.”
“Falling in love with a mother meant loving her own flesh and blood. After knowing the status of her past relationship, I vowed to take her on and the children. They were now my children as well,” he reveals, adding, “We are living a happy life and my wife is soon giving birth to our third child.”

What Richard did would be a prayer for every woman with a child or children. It is the same story with men; they also pray to get that woman who would treat their children humanely. Being a good mother or a good father figure may not be easy but when you are transparent as Jonathan Okiri, a relationship coach affiliated to Family Life Network, says, things may be easy.

Be transparent
“Transparency is key. The party that has a child must involve the spouse and tell them every detail from the start,” he notes, adding that accepting the child will not be easy and will take time, commitment and working through building rapport.
“Hiding information and playing so secretive in this matter may ruin everything,” he adds.

Monica a single mother learned the hard way how secrets can ruin even the best of relationships. “I did not reveal the truth about my past for fear of being dumped. The man had money and he loved me. I knew he would leave me the moment he learned that I was still getting help from the boy’s father but unfortunately, he left me saying he can never trust a person who is not truthful,” she narrates. Other counsellors say that every relationship has a unique start depending on how people meet.

According to Evelyn Kharono, a counselling psychologist, when two people meet and fall in love, it is important to discuss pertinent issues and among these is if one or both have a child or children. She emphasizes the need to do this at the initial stage before the relationship gets deeper.
“If the topic about children is discussed early on, it enables the couple to know how each feels about the matter such that if they are accepted then it is okay for them to come into the picture, as it promotes bonding with the new parent,” she divulges.

Do not discriminate
Okiri emphasises that once the children have been exposed and accepted, the next big issue is treating them equally. “Treat all children the same. For example, take them to the same school, buy them gifts as you would your own children. Never show them any sign of discrimination,” he advises. But in case the other partner shows a negative attitude towards the children, or child, Kharono’s says: “It will not be usual for the person to start liking children or a child they did not like from the start. So, make a conscious decision of whether you want to continue with the relationship,” she cites.

Let it be natural
Forcing the child to call you dad or mummy will not work, Okiri say. When you do so, just know you have failed at your game. He instead supports you to accept the fact that the child is there (in the picture) and love him or her as your own.
However, Kharono says that marriage is a major decision in life and so, those intending to get married need to make decisions with the full understanding of every situation and not base their decision solely on emotions.