Raising a family has never been easy. Throw a stepparent into the mix and you’re likely to face a raft of new challenges you never anticipated. You are not alone though as reports show that more than 1000 stepfamilies are formed every day and about 30 million US children aged 13 and below live with a stepparent.
As you can see, blended families are becoming increasingly common across the nation, forcing numerous couples to readjust their parenting styles.
Parenting In Stepfamlies
When a remarriage takes place between two people with children from previous relationships, a certain amount of emotional upheaval is inevitable.
The stepparent’s integration into such a family can be greatly hampered by their different parenting styles as well as their expectations of their spouses, kids and the marriage. Stepparents are also likely to have their own ideas on how families should function based on their previous experiences and backgrounds and this might not go down very well with the new family, especially the kids.
Since children are involved, dealing with their discipline is likely to be one of the greatest sources of tension for stepfamilies. Kids who have lost parents through death or divorce are normally in mourning and the introduction of a stepparent into the family unit can be met with anger, rebellion and hostility.
Additionally, there is a high likelihood of rivalry between the step and biological children in blended families. In such cases, anything less than objective mediation will cause either of the kids to feel that the other party was being unduly favored.
Such situations require a delicate approach to diffuse tension and create cohesion, especially if teens are involved. Stepparents who are too heavy-handed in their discipline risk creating a rift between themselves and their stepchildren that can suck in other family members.
In order to make the stepfamily transition smoothly, it’s crucial for you and your spouse to hash out your parenting and disciplining expectations. This will make the lines of authority clear and both of you will have a better understanding of your roles and responsibilities in the relationship.
Other things that might help include:
Letting the primary or custodial parent handle discipline issues with their children at least until the stepparent establishes a solid bond with the kids and becomes more grounded in the family. Having regular family meetings where all family members can express their feelings and concerns as well as find ways to effectively solve any conflicts. Organizing weekly or monthly outings for the whole family. This can be a game night, monthly road trip, or even eating dinner out. Spending time together as a family will encourage camaraderie and bonding with each other.
Most of all, it’s important not to rush or force the bonding process with step children. Always keep in mind that building a bond takes time so be patient and let everyone adjust to the new familial changes at their own pace.
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