Important Questions to Ask Your Potential Mate Who Has Children:
The following questions outline the issues that most stepfamilies struggle with during a remarriage.
Q: What are your daily and weekly routines/schedules?
A: Lack of routines/regular schedules creates high stress levels and conflict between the biological parents and new couple. Adding predictability and structure to daily and weekly schedules decreases the amount of time and energy you’ll spend arguing about it.
Q: How do you handle discipline? What kinds of consequences will your kids face?
A: You and your potential mate may have very different disciplining styles. Understanding and respecting these differences will help you create a consistent, congruent discipline style that works for the whole household.
Q: What role do you see me playing in terms of discipline?
A: Agreeing on the forms and norms (“house rules”) is vital to relationship success. Defining roles up front allows for a smoother transition.
Q: How do you get along with your former spouse?
A: One of the biggest issues between couples in stepfamilies revolves around former spouses. Prepare in advance for the divorce-related issues you may be forced to confront.
Q: How did your actions contribute to your divorce/breakup?
A: Understanding past mistakes increases our chances of success in remarriage.
Q: Tell me about your parents and their roles in the household. How did your parents get along? Who did what, in terms of household management? Finances? Housekeeping? How were children treated? How were children disciplined?
A: The households in which we grew up set the stage for how we expect our current households to work. Understanding the dynamics of your (and your new mate’s) “family of origin” provides insights into each other’s expectations.
Q: How much time do you spend with your children? How do you spend this time?
A: Again, knowing what to expect greatly improves how you’ll work together as a couple.
Q: What kind of visitation agreement do you have with your ex-spouse?
A: Vacillating, unpredictable visitation arrangements are known to cause significant rifts between step-couples, children and ex-spouses.
Q: What would happen if primary custody of the children were to switch?
A: How would your potential mate respond if primary custody were to switch? If you have primary custody now, but it later goes to the other parent, what would this mean for you? A move? A job change? Financial impact? Alternatively, if you do not have primary custody, but were granted it, how would your potential mate respond? How would life change?