Have you recently gotten remarried, or do you plan to get married to someone with children from a previous marriage? Are you looking to bring your new blended family together?
Well, you’re not alone. In 2018, there were nearly 4 million households with stepchildren just in the United States. And making these new relationships feel real can be difficult.
But, it can be done if you work hard enough. Let’s go through how to bond with your newfound step-children so you can fully enjoy your relationship.
If your step-children’s other parent is in the future, you want to make sure you’re not encroaching on your territory. You’ll all need to work together to make your children feel comfortable, so you’ll want to keep your relationship with your spouse’s ex-partner as cordial as possible.
And, at all times, stay as positive as possible when building your relationship with your step-kids. Positivity helps other people feel good about your energy, and it will help all the relationships work better together.
It’s also key not to go overboard with your expectations. Try to be realistic, and don’t expect too much out of your new relationship (especially right away).
Follow the children’s lead when working on your relationship and making plans. That way, they’ll feel like they have control of the situation and they will be less likely to lash out at you for taking control.
And, you should discuss expectations with your partner and with your stepchildren’s other parent. You don’t want to accidentally overstep their boundaries, either. Ask them what their thoughts on your relationship with their children are, and what they expect of you as an extra parental figure.
Of course, your approach will have to be different depending on the age of the step-children. You’ll need to take a different tack with babies and toddlers versus preschool-age versus school-aged children versus teenaged children, so make sure you consider these factors into your calculation.
While it may be your instinct, it’s important that you don’t push your new stepchildren into situations that may make them uncomfortable.
You also shouldn’t push yourself to feel things you don’t. When you first meet your stepkids, you may not feel connected to them right away. It takes time to feel love and appreciation for kids you aren’t close to. Make slow strides, and don’t stress yourself out about the situation.
You should also make sure that your stepchildren have plenty of one on one time with their primary or biological parent.
While it’s good to create your own relationship, and to spend time together as a big blended family, your stepchildren will also need to be secure in the relationship they have with the parent they already knew.
You don’t want to make the kids feel like you’re encroaching or taking over their territory.
Have your partner schedule one on one time with their children and make yourself scarce for a while. Later on, you can start having your own time with them, but it’s important to take it slow and steady.
Be as open and honest as possible when communicating with your new stepchildren. Especially for older children, don’t shy away from hard questions or hide the truth.
Be honest about any concerns you might have, and communicate about your relationship with them. It’s important to be on the same page with them as much as possible.
You also need to be honest with your partner. Let them know about any insecurities in the relationship you have when them or their children, and any concerns or thoughts you have.
If you have any negative or positive experiences or end up in a confusing situation with one of the children, make sure you let your partner know. They’re your partner for a reason, after all, and as the children’s primary parent it’s important for them to be kept up to date with any problems.
You need to make sure the two of you are on the same page, to keep a steady environment for all of the children in your life.
If you have your own children or other loved ones important to your life, you should do your best to make sure everyone’s relationships work together.
This can depend on what the custody agreement is with your partner’s ex. If you have joint custody, it will be a different situation if one parent has sole custody.
You can make sure that you don’t miss any major events in your stepchildren’s lives and synchronize schedules and planning with your partner and your stepchildren’s other parents using the different features on the 2houses app.
Although it can often be overwhelming, it is important to create and maintain a good co-parent relationship. That will make your stepchildren feel more confident in the arrangement, and make it feel more like a real blended family for everyone involved.
There are plenty of co-parenting tips and tricks out there to help you get started on your co-parenting journey.
And, never, ever bad-talk your step-children’s other parent in front of them. That will just cause resentment and bad feelings between the children and between you and the other parent. Stay positive, and if you don’t have anything nice to say just don’t say anything at all.
If you’re bringing your own children in as part of your new blended family, the situation can get even more complicated. But, with the right tools and the right amount of effort, you’ll have a cohesive blended family in no time.
But, it’s also important to keep it even across the board. Treat your children and your step-children the same from day one. The same punishments, the same privileges, the same curfews, and bedtimes.
You don’t want to give them a reason to resent each other, or to resent you or your partner. So, make sure you treat every child equally to avoid any complications.
That means you should be supporting your step-children like you would your children, too. Attend their extracurricular activities and other big life events in their life. Help them with their homework, and give them support when they need it.
That way, they’ll feel like you respect them and your relationship as much as you do your biological children.
No matter what, it’s important to feel strongly about the approach you’re taking. If you think there’s a problem, you should ask questions and really examine what your issue is.
Stay strong, and don’t back down when you’re right. If you look like you stand strong in your beliefs, your stepchildren will be more likely to come around to understanding your point of view.
After a certain age, most kids get unruly and downright rude. That will also be true of your stepchildren. But, that doesn’t mean it’s not important for you to be respectful. You need to set an example, so that your stepchildren will see your behavior and know what’s expected of them.
That will make it easier for you to point to examples of positive and negative reinforcement in your relationship with them, and help them to understand how best to interact with you appropriately. Eventually, the respect you pay to your stepchildren will end up becoming reciprocal.
Stay away from being judgemental as well. You won’t always know the full context of a situation, and you don’t know everything that happened in your step-children’s lives before you entered the picture.
So, be sure to always keep an open mind and be respectful with your responses to their needs and statements.
Sometimes, you just need a break and to blow off some steam. Phone a trusted friend to vent any concerns, hurts, and other feelings you might have. Counseling or therapy can also be a super useful tool.
If your entire family is having trouble community, you might want to look into family therapy. If your partner and your stepchildren’s other parent are receptive, therapy can be a great tool to get you all on the same page and to help you feel more secure in your relationships.
It can be difficult reorganizing your nuclear family with biological parents and stepsiblings, so there’s absolutely no shame in asking for help if you need.
You may feel like you want to let your stepchildren get away with whatever they want, at least at first, but it’s important to set boundaries and limits so they know what to expect.
If you fail to set boundaries now, they’ll be getting away with bad behavior for years in the future. That’s why you should stay strong right off the bat, so everyone will be happier in the long run.
And, make sure you don’t fold. Always stay strong, and stick to your guns, and eventually your boundaries will be the status quo for the family.
When getting to know your step-children, it’s important to relate to them in ways that work for them. Talk to them about their interests, the subjects they like in school, and their favorite pieces of pop culture.
Find activities that they enjoy, and you can do together as a family activity. That way, they will actually want to hang out with you and won’t resent you from taking time away from their interests or friends.
Here are some low-stress activities you can try out with your step-children that they might enjoy:
Of course, you’ll want to base what you choose based on your step-children’s interests. Don’t make a kid who hates exercise go mini golfing, for example!
You may feel like it’s important just to incorporate your step-children into your nuclear family, but you shouldn’t just stop there. it’s still important for your step-children to feel like part of the extended family, as well.
If your family has big traditions for the holidays or other occasions, make sure that your new step-children are invited and feel like a part of the tradition. That will make your family ties stronger, and make everyone feel more like a real blended family.
You can also start new traditions with your step-children. That can help them feel like you’re making an extra effort to find a way to work them in in a way that suits them, rather than trying to force them in somewhere they don’t fit.
As long as your patient and careful, you’ll form a good relationship with your step-children in no time flat. Just stay calm, take it slow, and be communicative, and your blended family will be perfectly happy and healthy.
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