Blending families is extremely complex. While you may look at something like the Brady Bunch and think it’s easy to bring two families together into one, the truth of the matter is often much different. It takes a lot of time and dedication from all parties to ensure the transition goes as smoothly as possible. If you’re facing this type of situation, the following tips will help you build a better relationship with your stepchildren to create harmony in the household and keep everyone on the same page.
Take Your Time
A good relationship with your stepchildren isn’t going to happen overnight. In many cases, the children haven’t fully healed from the experience and bringing someone new into their lives may bring old feelings back to the surface, especially if they were holding onto the hope their parents would get back together. Watch their cues and follow their lead when it comes to interactions to achieve the best results.
Keep Changes to a Minimum
Children go through a lot of life-changing events during a divorce. This can include the obvious adjustment to only living with one parent at a time, as well as other changes like moving into a new house or even going to a different school. Even though children are resilient, going through all of these changes can be difficult. Adding in a new stepparent is just one more thing they have to deal with. Keeping any other changes to a minimum will help make the transition much easier.
Don’t Expect Love at First Sight
You may not like your stepchildren at first, and they may not like you. However, this doesn’t mean all is lost. It’s important to take your time and get to know each other. Eventually, affection will develop and you will even come to love each other as family.
Make Parenting Decisions Before Marriage
When both parties entering a marriage already have children from past relationships, there can often be a clash of parenting styles. For this reason, you will find things go much more smoothly if you talk about how you will parent separately and together before you get married. Set the boundaries for what each parent is responsible for and how issues will be handled. This ensures there are fewer arguments over these matters, allowing you to present a united front with the children.
One of the biggest issues many individuals encounter in their role as a stepparent is trying too hard to be friends with your stepchildren. While it’s important to be someone they can turn to, talk to and rely on, it’s also important to make sure they know you deserve respect, just like their natural parents. You are still a person in authority and need to be respected. This is especially important if the children are having difficulty accepting you into the family. They don’t have to like you, but they do have to show you respect.
Keep Reasonable Expectations
While everyone wants a good relationship with their stepchildren, you need to keep your expectations reasonable. After all, some children see the introduction of a stepparent as a replacement for the absent parent, even if that parent still plays an important role in their lives. When you approach the development of your relationship with reasonable expectations, there is a much lower chance of being disappointed in the end.
It’s not always easy to be a stepparent, but if you follow these tips and take the right steps, you can set a solid foundation on which you can build a positive relationship, adding another important role model to their lives. In the end, you aren’t replacing their other parent; instead, you are an addition to their growing family who will also help support them.