Blended Family: Surviving the First 90 Days
No Less Love
Remind everyone, at least daily, that there is no less love in a blended family. Everyone who was a valued family member before the “merge” is still a valued family member. Each loved member of the family is still loved. A blended family provides the opportunity for more love. There are now more people involved, since the marriage, who care about each other and will grow together as a family.
Strange feelings are O.K.
The kids did not pick your new spouse. You love your new partner, but the kids will need some time getting to know this person. It’s O.K. if they have some strange feelings, even confusing thoughts- wondering if they are going to like this new person. Let them take their time and get to know your spouse. Remind them to be respectful and friendly, and then give them some space.
A new stepparent does not replace anyone in the family. The children still have their biological parents, with the addition of a new stepparent. This stepparent is to be respected, as an adult, but does not take the place of either of the biological parents.
There are no competitions. Children sometimes feel that the new stepparent is a new enemy- a competitor for them. The new stepparent may feel the same way about the kids- that these step kids are someone who takes time away from their new spouse.
Tell everyone that there are no competitions and no threats. Relax and get to know each other.
It’s O.K. to Like Your New Stepparent
Sometimes kids believe that liking their stepparent means that they are disloyal to their biological parent. Reassure your child that this is a different relationship, and loving your parents has nothing to do with getting to know and liking this new stepparent.
Adults Are Still in Charge
All adults, biological or stepparents, are still the ones in charge. It’s best to not have any secrets between you and your biological kids, that you keep from your new spouse. Present yourselves as a “united front” to the kids. If they question you, and you don’t have an answer ready (ex: a new family rule) tell them that you’ll think about it and get back to them. Discuss all issues, in private, with your new spouse.
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