Friday, October 7, 2011

The first 90 days are the toughest in a blended or stepfamily

Two adults, who have gone through a divorce and are now entering remarriage, when one or both are bringing children from that marriage, are creating a blended family or step family. This new couple is obviously in love and excited about their bond. Unfortunately, they often fail to realize that the children may not share their enthusiasm.

The first three months are always the toughest, and it’s crucial to communicate important information to the children. This will allow you to flourish as a blended family, also called a step family. Here are a few things to discuss with your children.

Everyone is loved just as much as always
All children must be reminded each day that a stepfamily offers just as much love as any other type of family. Everyone is just as important now as they were before the merge. A blended family offers a chance for even more love, as more people are involved now. There will now be a step mom or step dad, as well as step kids involved, which creates more opportunities for love.

It is OK to feel strange about a new family addition
You obviously love the person you have chosen as your new partner, but your kids didn’t help pick this person out, and they will need time to get to know him or her. Let your kids know that having strange feelings towards the blended family, and wondering whether they will like your spouse is perfectly normal. Allow them their space to get to know your new spouse in their own time. As long as they are friendly and respectful, that’s all you can ask for at first.

Nothing is ever a competition
There is plenty of room for a step mom or step dad, and they are not replacing anyone. The kids still have both their biological parents to depend on, and a stepparent is just a wonderful addition to the family. The stepparent will be respected as an adult and decision maker, but will not be stepping into the shoes of either biological parent. Children often see a stepparent as an enemy of sorts, and the parent may often feel the same way, since the kids take up some of their spouse’s time. Make sure everyone knows that they just need to relax and get acquainted with each other.

Liking a new stepparent is OK
Kids don’t deal with the emotions in a divorce as well as adults do. They will often feel that if they allow themselves to grow attached to a stepparent that they are somehow being disrespectful to the biological parent. Just tell your children that it is perfectly acceptable, and that it will just be a different type of relationship. The love they feel for their parents has nothing to do with liking a new stepparent.

As already mentioned, the first 90 days in a blended family are the hardest. Getting plenty of rest and sticking to these rules will ensure that your step family is emotionally happy and healthy for a long, long time.

The Blended and Step Family Resource Center aims to help blended and stepfamilies become strong and successful through its counselling and coaching services as well as other resources available. To get the help that you need, get in touch with our licensed professional counselors and we will help you find solutions and hope.

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