You finally met the one. This time it is going to last. It is like you got a second chance at life. And then trouble arrives in paradise. Your kids have an issue with your new love. Your new love struggles with your kids. All the kids fight. What once seemed so right, is now seeming impossibly wrong. Your blended family won’t blend.
How do you salvage what you thought was going to be the best chapter of your life? Here are a few tips to get started (from a therapist who hears kids complain about this topic all the time).
Step-parents need to build a relationship BEFORE they discipline.
I see this time and time again. New partners arrive on the scene and they are ready to make some disciplinarian changes. Maybe you breathe a sigh of relief and are thankful for the extra help. Or perhaps your partner is unhappy with how your kids run amok.
Whatever the reason – having a step-parent discipline too soon is the quickest way to build unrest among the little people.
Don’t forget to give your biological children alone time.
All too often parents want to force the “blended family” onto their children. Your children may be grieving for what they have lost. You fell in love, but they didn’t. Don’t forget to separately foster your relationship with your kids.
Have a date night once a week one on one with your biological children. This will help them feel loved and valued in the new family and will give them an outlet to discuss their feelings in private.
Don’t force kids to call a step-parent mom or dad.
Forcing your kids to call a step-parent mom or dad before they are ready can build resentment. If children already have an active mother or father in their lives they may never feel comfortable calling a step-parent mom or dad – and that should be okay.
Let your children decide what they want to call their step-parent.
Don’t radically change household rules once you start your blended family.
This is very common. You get married and all of a sudden the household is full of new rules and expectations. You want to blend so badly you incorporate many of your partner’s ways of thinking and living. Unfortunately, this new change doesn’t go down well with the kiddos.
Take change slow. Talk to the kids and get their input on the changes. If they feel they are a part of the change, they are more likely to adapt.
Avoid having different rules for your kids and your partner’s kids.
Many couples do this and it never turns out well. Partners have their rules with their kids and you have your rules with your kids. When you blend, you don’t blend your rules. Their kids are up late into the night but your kids have a bedtime. Their kids eating junk food, but your kids aren’t allowed. Their kids are able to relax when they get home, but your kids need to get their homework done.
Even though I just talked about being slow with all the changes, kids feel strong resentment when their step-siblings have different rules and privileges. Try to make it as similar as possible to reduce any animosity between the kids.
A successful blended family takes time and patience. Let your kids know you recognize how hard it is for them. Don’t expect them to be head over heels the minute you get married. Kids need time and understanding.
Explain to your kids that their step-parent isn’t trying to replace their other parent. Let them know that they are a parental figure in the home and an additional person to love them, help them and guide them through life. In time they will hopefully see it that way as well.
Do you have some tips on how you were able to successfully blend your family? Leave a comment and share with other families.
Do you know a newly blended family currently struggling. Share this article and help them out.