5 Tips To Prepare You To Step In
With the formation of a stepfamily, it is more than a marriage between two people, it is the combining of two cultures, each with their own dynamics and customs. It is important to always appreciate the connection of the birth family, and recognize that is takes time to form those bonds through marital ties.
- Establishing a new relationship as a stepparent with the children is imperative. Take things slow and work towards developing a new relationship with your step-children that does not need to mimic the relationship they share with their birth parents. And remember, you will not always be the good guy and may at times be the scapegoat for a child’s anger, but it is important to stand your ground and work to establish a healthy relationship with boundaries.
- Maintaining the same rules for all household members is important. Consistency is key; rules may differ based on age but should be consistently applied to all family members. This will help all members of the house feel equal and hopefully work towards establishing acceptance of the new family unit. Have positive rules, like greetings each other every morning and saying please and thank you instead of negative rules like “Don’t ignore each other.”
- Create new family traditions. Find activities that all the kids may enjoy, but if it’s impossible to agree on an activity, rotate who gets to choose the family activity. That way everyone gets involved in the decision making. This is an opportunity to have fun together, not to try to win the kids love.
- Respect all parents in your children’s lives. Be courteous and compassionate in your interactions with an ex-spouse, even though it may be very hard to do. Try to avoid saying negative things about the other parent in front of the kids because doing so often backfires and the kids feel angry and caught in the middle.
- Have clear lines of communication with your partner. Likely, your perspectives on parenting will be different and it is important to present a united front to children because they are probably already dealing with different parenting styles from their other parent. Discuss how to deal with issues and they arise and work together with the children to resolve whatever the situation may be.
With the blending of a family, there will typically be many bumps along the way. Set the expectation that things may be difficult and have hope that things will will hopefully improve once everyone gets to know each other better and becomes familiar with the routine.