Whether it is early or later in the relationship, the “First Meeting” is an important event. For a most successful time—and let's define successful as an experience where everybody walks away feeling more comfortable, not less comfortable—I suggest some advance planning. Ideally you want the first meeting to feel casual but to be carefully orchestrated to avoid pitfalls. Before the first meeting, follow these tips:
- Define your expectations for the meeting, and lower your goals. It is not going to be love-at-first-sight, and it shouldn't be. Think of it in biological terms. You are encroaching on another animal's territory. Be polite and wary. This meeting is not about love or fun; it's about getting through it alive so you can live to see meeting #2.
- Think of meeting the kids for the first time as a blind date. What are the secrets to a successful blind date? According to my single pals, it's simple: Keep it short and safe. Try an activity that everybody will like, such as a park or a movie. Don't be over-ambitious: A full day at Great America will leave the kids (and you two already-stressed-out adults) tired, wired, and wasted. Keep it to a couple of hours at most. A meal isn't a bad idea, but you will be facing each other across a table for quite a while, and this may be too much for the kids to handle right away.
- Relax. (I know, it's not so easily done.) Consciously accept that this may be stressful, and take five minutes to let your tensions go.
- Work with your honey to fill out the following Parent Questionnaire.