5 Things New Step Parents Should Know
When you marry someone who already has children or you have children of your own, there are many pitfalls that can trip you up. Below are 5 guidelines that can help you on this roller coaster journey of creating a blended family.
1) Prepare ahead of time. Don’t wait until the day after the wedding and have unrealistic expectations that things will fall into place. You will have to make this happen. If you are not prepared, it will be a confusing and tumultuous time for the children. Decide before marriage how things such as discipline, schedules, health concerns, social relationships, childcare, etc. will be handled. Don’t wait until something happens and then just ‘react’. Have a plan ahead of time and stick to it. One parent changing course leaving the other parent hanging can be damaging so stick to your plan unless discussed with the other spouse ahead of time.
2) Make sure that you and new spouse are on same page with Ex. spouse and partner if applicable. Going from one set of parents, one set of rules to two sets of parents and two sets of new rules can be quite a challenging time for most kids. Try to stick as much as possible to current disciplines, schedules, social relationships, etc. As time goes on you will be able to gently shift anything that needs adjusting down the line.
3) Biological Parents and Step Parents should communicate and be as amicable as possible. It’s not fair to take them from mommy and daddy fighting to mommy and step-mom fighting or daddy and step-dad fighting. Whatever your differences, you must shelter your children from them and allow them to have a happy and healthy childhood. They did not ask for any divorce or remarriages so don’t try to shove your choices down their throats. The biggest misconception is that children adapt quickly. That may be true in some cases but most certainly not in most. It will take them time to adjust and digest these new relationships and each child is different. You the parents initiated the divorce and remarriages so it is up to you to make the sacrifices needed.
4) Step Parents should never fake love with their new step children. Kids are very intuitive and can decipher between genuine and fake affection. Just because you love your spouse does not mean that you will have automatic love for his/her children. You will however, need to develop the best relationships that you can with their children and hopefully love will grow in the process. Don’t try to force yourself to love them or for them to love you and while love may or may not grow, mutual respect is an absolute must.
5) Never, ever have favorites. As a Step-Parent, you must always treat all of your spouse’s children equally. Realistically, your personality and one child’s personality may click better than another, however, you the adult must make the concerted effort to make sure that this in no way leaves another child feeling left out or less loved or cared for. This can create resentment between siblings and even between you and your new spouse and you can open another whole can of worms In addition, when both sides have children it is not only imperative that all parents treat all the children the same but grandparents and extended family do as well. Children coming into new Step-Families should never be made to fell less loved or that they don’t fit in.
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