Lifestyle and parenting coach Zoe Loeve says: “It’s not always easy or natural to like someone else’s children, whether they’re a relative’s, a friend’s or a partner’s. What makes it more difficult is that the children may see you as a threat to their biological mother or see you as ‘taking’ their dad away from them. You have to be the adult in the situation and know when to step in.”

Work on improving yourself first 

In a case where you just cannot ‘click’ with the children, you just have to stop focusing on trying to like them, because that can be a nearly impossible task. A goal that’s more realistic and helpful in relieving the anxiety linked with disliking them is figuring out how to accept them into your life. “When you dislike your partner’s children, what you’re really experiencing is a resistance to him, his presence and his impact on your life,” explains life coach Thembi Hama.

So if you are really battling to accept them it may be necessary to look at yourself and what it is in you that are triggered by them. Being able to talk to your partner about how to build a good relationship with his children is important as he needs to support your efforts and he needs to also help them with accepting you. As the adult, it’s your responsibility to do some personal growth yourself. Get professional help if you are really tested by the dynamic created with your man’s kids.

Communicate with your man 

Sometimes, some kids are just plain rude, unbearable, ungrateful, and behave like brats. There are many reasons why you might not like them, including them being disrespectful towards you, and they accept no responsibility, are extremely needy and manipulative. Perhaps the most annoying of them all is that they make false claims about you whenever their mom’s around.

It’s easy to blame the kids here, even though in reality, the parent – your bae – is the one letting the kids off the hook. Unfortunately, he isn’t doing his job as the other parent. He needs to hold his children accountable for bad behaviour of any sort and reinforce a sense of responsibility. So, who should you really be upset with, the child or your partner?

Thembi advises: “Address the child’s behaviour with your partner without being confrontational. Just be sure it’s the behaviour you’re saying you dislike and not the child’s character. However, if this behaviour continues in ways that is directly disrespectful to you, it’s better for you to set limits in the same way that you would set limits with anyone else.

Have an honest conversation 

Let the children know that you don’t ever want to give them the impression that you are there to replace their mother. Make your intentions clear in dating their father and getting to know them. Listen to what they have to say too, and make it clear that they can talk to you about anything. Keeping the lines of communication open helps to develop a healthy relationship.

Try to blend in 

You don’t have to completely bond right away and be involved in everything immediately, but you should try to find some common ground with them. Not only is this important for them, it is key to your having a life in a blended relationship. So, see if you can find something – anything really – that you might have in common. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy – a TV show, music or artist, a love of a certain kind of food, a game – just something of similarity and compatibility to build a relationship from. Accept that it will take some time for a relationship to develop. Maybe even years, don’t assume that it will go quickly.

“If you want a relationship to work, the best thing to do is find a way of accepting them by looking for ‘parts of them’ that you enjoy and focussing on that. Also bear in mind what you like about your partner and look for that in his children. They are after all a part of him,” adds Loeve.

Make time for you and the kids 

Developing a relationship with the kids can be done when you and your boyfriend hang out with them together, but a little extra time goes a long way. After all, you have to show the kids that you’re genuinely invested in getting to know them and not just their father. Invite the kids out for some fun with just you, and you’ll make them feel special. Yes, it will take time but give it your best shot. – w24