If life were a made-for-TV movie, dating someone with kids would turn out one of two ways. When you picked up a date who has children at home, the kids would squeal with delight upon your arrival or, conversely, churlishly hide and dump a bucket of water on your head.

In the real world, meeting your date’s kids is far less dramatic but equally daunting. Not only are you hoping to impress your new match, it would certainly make for smoother sailing if his or her kids were in your corner. Keeping in mind you are not looking to replace another parent, the right moves could lay the groundwork for a long-term relationship should a match become a beshert.

Here are some tips for gaining the acceptance of what could be a hostile audience, whether it’s toddlers or teens.

1. Don’t Be Buddy-Buddy

Don’t walk in and try to sound like a long-lost friend. If there is one thing kids are great at, it’s spotting a phony. You are not, and never will be, one of their friends. Accept that, shake hands, say hello and introduce yourself.

2. Make A Connection

Read the room and look for hints about what interests the kids. If you spot a picture of the kids at a sporting event, take it as a lead and pose a friendly question, such as, “I see you were at the Lakers game. Are you a basketball fan?” If you get a warm response, proceed; if you get stone-cold silence, move along.

3. Don’t Bring Up Your Brood

Never talk about your own children unless asked. If you live in proximity of your date, it is possible your kids and your date’s offspring attend the same school. If one of the children asks, “Is Mike So-and-So your son? He’s in my class,” say yes or no (as the case may be) and hope the conversation ends politely. If, in general, one of the youngsters asks if you have kids, be short and sweet with your response. There is no need to provide a detailed resume of your son or daughter’s after-school activities.

4. Go Light On The Details

Kids are naturally protective of their parent, so one of your date’s more mature children might ask your plans for the evening. Again, be brief yet thorough: “We’re going out to dinner and a movie.” Such an exchange could lead to more dialogue, inquiring about either where you are dining or what movie you are seeing. Treat such interest as a good thing, not an inquisition. On the other hand, if one of the kids asks your yearly income, go ahead and change the subject.

5. Dress To Impress

Always look your best. Impressing your date is paramount to getting sartorial approval from his or her brood, but a well-dressed person tells everyone in the house you take pride in your appearance.

Don’t expect things to get easier over time; if things get serious, your date’s kids’ anxiety may rise if they fear you are going to ease your way into their family and replace their biological mother or father. Always keep in mind that even the most outwardly stoic child may be a sensitive soul inside. Tread carefully, and if all else fails – bribery is always an option (wink).

You may also be interested in “Am I Too Young to Date Someone with Kids?”

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