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Dear Dr. Frankie,

 I’ve been dating a woman who has two children from a previous marriage. We’ve dated for about eight months now and I really care about her and I could see a future for us. The only reservation I’m having is that I’ve never really wanted children. Her kids are wonderful but I’m just wary about pursuing a relationship with her when I’m not sure I can handle being a step-mom. I feel that as time passes its inevitable the children are going to become more attached to me. I grew up in a household with a single mom with boyfriends traipsing in and out of our lives and it was really hard on us kids. I know I would never want to be that person to my girlfriend’s kids.

Dear Step Mom,

Eight months is a good amount of time to assess whether you want to take on the responsibility and commitment of becoming a stepparent. Kids are a blessing, but being a parent or stepparent is certainly not for everyone.  Kids have a keen sense of awareness and will instantly know if you’re faking it.

I applaud you for giving your girlfriend’s children the respect they deserve by evaluating your role in the family dynamic. You obviously understand that when you merge lives with someone who has children, you are not only committing to that person but also making a commitment to her kids. Your girlfriend is a package deal and until her children are grown and living outside of the home, you must accept that her children are her first priority. Providing a safe, stable life for them should take precedent over just about everything else, including dating. If you move forward with the relationship, with time the family dynamic probably will shift naturally and you will find yourself in a more central role. However, until that time comes, be prepared to play second fiddle.

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