If you are a step parent in a blended family, it can be tough and exciting at the same time, as you’re building a whole new family from the remnants of the old one and also taking on new responsibilities for children that aren’t your own. But tough doesn’t mean it has to be terrible: You and your new partner can make it work by setting guide lines that you both can work from.
1. You both agree on your roles and rules: Even before you both decide to move in together, you need to work on the big issues – how you’re going to discipline all the kids, what time meal times will be, sleeping arrangements, chores, and how you plan to spend time together. Once that is decided you both need to be consistent about what you decide, so that all the children know where they stand (even if things are different at their other parent’s home).
2. Acknowledge your feelings – and your partner’s: It’s impossible to love your stepchild like your own from the moment you first meet them. These feelings will develop in their own time, so don’t be anxious or have feelings of guilt. You also need to try and not be jealous when your partner spends time with their own child or children.
3. Be accepting of each other’s challenges: You will find that each of you will have to make big adjustments, and they may not necessary be the same adjustments or challenges.
4. Don’t take the children’s negative reactions personally: Give all the children the opportunity to adjust to their new surroundings. They may be upset because of the new situation they find themselves in, so give them time to settle in and reassure them that these changes won’t change your love for them.
5. Take time out for each other: Being in a ‘step couple’ relationship is often times busy and complex, with all sorts of things happening which can sometimes get in the way of you both spending quality time together. Don’t let it. Make time a priority every week to be alone together and to have some fun – your relationship with each other needs some serious emotional investment for the benefit of the whole blended family.