Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A blended family expert answers a common concern of a mom in a step family

This is a real question from a mom in a blended family: 
I have a couple of daughters, aged nine and 12. My future spouse has two kids of his own, a 12-year-old girl and a boy who is eight. We both have alternating custody with our ex, allowing or children to be together on the same weekends. They attend the same school as well, so our future step family is together a lot. Things have gone well, up until lately. My 9-year-old daughter has started to be rude to her soon-to-be step dad, and it hurts him. She has told him that she won’t listen to him because he isn’t her parent, and even my other daughter has recently joined in on the attack against him.

He is a great dad, and does a wonderful job trying to make my kids feel special and welcome. We already function as a blended family, but my kids are lashing out now, and I’m not sure how to handle it. They say they like him, but I’m not sure how that’s possible with how they treat him. My youngest daughter will make a mean face at him when we hug or kiss and she squeezes between us on the sofa. We plan to enter remarriage within a year, and move in together soon after. How can I make my kids show their future step dad the respect he deserves?

The response from a blended and step family expert:
This is typical behavior for kids about to enter a blended or step family. They don’t know what is expected of them, so you have to tell them. They may also be getting conflicting comments and information from their other parent, perhaps telling them that it isn’t OK to love a step parent. Here are a few blended family guidelines to follow.

Blended and step family – a new experience
Talk to your kids about what divorce and remarriage mean, and what your future step family holds in store for them. Remind them that when you all live together your spouse is the dad of that home and must be treated with the appropriate respect. However, they should know that he will no way replace their biological dad. Being step kids is not easy, and you must explain what this means in their world, and how they are expected to act towards your future spouse.

Blended family rules
It’s important to have house rules in place for your blended family, and these rules should be agreed upon and presented as a team, with you and your spouse. All children should be treated equally and fairly. Here are some good blended family house rules to consider:

·         Be polite and respectful to each parent, as well as all siblings
·         Talk to everyone within the home
·         Gain permission before touching or playing with someone else’s property

In a blended family, you can’t make everyone like one another, but you can force your kids to treat their step siblings as they want to be treated. They could end up as close friends, but if they don’t, so what? Biological brothers and sisters don’t always like each other either.

Lastly, you may see some drastic changes when you actually tie the knot. Seeing you get married will give them some stability, and increase their willingness to accept your husband and their new step siblings.

The Blended and Step Family Resource Center offers assistance in terms of counseling and coaching services to help blended and step families in adjusting to their new family setting. If you need more extensive help, check out the many resources at The Blended and Step Family Resource Center.

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