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How to Bond with Stepchildren

How to Bond with Stepchildren

Outside of fairy tales and childish nightmares of Daddy’s upcoming wedding, stepmothers very rarely banish their new stepchildren to the attic. But…when families “blend” there are often bumps in the road to a happy home. Things rarely progress without a hitch, but please remember during the “bumps” that they DO progress. Some children resist change more than others and some parents are less patient with this type of resistance than others. It’s easy to become frustrated when the new “blended” family isn’t smoothly functioning quite as you planned. But when you feel the frustration coming on, remember that changes to family structure do require adjustment time for all of those involved. Consider these guidelines on how you can help your blended family work through the bumps.

Take the Needed Time: Many children of blended families have survived a painful divorce or separation. So have their parents, and if there is an attempt to get a blended family settled, then at least one of their parents has survived the aftermath of divorce and found a new relationship. In this circumstance, it’s often tempting to rush into a new marriage and blend two families without a lot of preparatory work or simply time. If you remember to take your time, you will find that it’s easier for everyone to grow accustomed to each other as well as grow accustomed to the idea of the new marriage.

Avoid Too Many Changes at Once: Blended families that have the highest success rate are led by couples that many times waited a couple years or more after their divorce before they remarried. When the new marriage follows too closely on the heels of the first, it can feel as if one drastic family change is being piled on top of another.

Don’t Expect to Fall in Love at First Sight with Your Partner’s Kids: Allow yourself some time to grow to love your new stepchildren. Get to know them. The affection and eventually, love, will develop over time.

Experience Real Life Together: Don’t try to “entertain” the kids every time you are all together in an attempt to make sure that they think being together is “fun.” Taking them to a theme park every time they both sets of kids are in the home is not reflective of your everyday life. Try to get the children accustomed to your partner and their children in regular, everyday situations.

Make Any Needed Parenting Decisions Before the Marriage: Discuss and come to terms on a cohesive parenting style before you marry. Make any needed adjustments or changes in parenting styles before the wedding. This will result in a smoother transition for the children. It is less likely that they will be angry with the new spouse regarding parenting style changes if they occur before the marriage.

Keep Ultimatums Out of the Parenting Equation: Agree beforehand that there will be not ultimatums placing you in the middle of your new spouse and your children with a choice to make. You should never feel as if you have to choose between them. Make it clear that you want BOTH sets of people in your life.

Demand Respect: You can’t demand that people like one another. It doesn’t work, but you can insist they treat each other with respect. It’s highly encouraged that you do so.

Keep Expectations in the Mid-Range: You might dedicate an extraordinary amount of time, energy and affection to your new partner’s children in the early stages that is not returned. Don’t expect them to respond in kind right away. They’ll need time to adjust as stated earlier. Think of it as an investment in your new family that will one day yield a lot of interest if you put in the work.

Be patient and considerate of the history the child or children have to deal with when you are attempting to bond with stepchildren. They should gradually adjust to the idea of the marriage and being a part of the new family it created. Your job is to communicate openly and provide for their needs and allow plenty of time for them to transition into their new role.

If you have additional concerns or questions on bonding with stepchildren or any other post-divorce issues, please get in touch with the lawyers at Arizona Family Law attorneys. We are here to assist you in maintaining a safe and healthy environment for your children in any way that we can.


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