6 Things to Consider When Navigating the Role of Stepparent
Stepfamilies face a myriad of daily challenges, each member of the blending family having deep rooted expectations about parenting, chores, schoolwork, technology, eating dinner together, money, vacations, expectations of child behavior. Add to these diverse challenges, co-parenting conflicts with your ex. Basically, it's a potential recipe for disaster without proper support and assistance. Here are 6 important considerations when blending your families.
1. You Chose to Get Remarried, Your Children Did Not. Children don't dream of being in a blended family. Blended family transitions take 3-5 years, even if they like your new spouse. Be kind to your stepkids. Give them space and let them decide what role they want you to have in their lives.
2. Family Traditions Matter. Holiday traditions have been established long before you came along. Traditions may involve making favorite family foods on special occasions such as Grandma's meatloaf or secret German Chocolate Cake recipe. Consider adding new special traditions but don't push it if the kids are not ready yet.
3. Let Your Spouse Handle the Discipline. Avoid, at all costs, getting involved in discipline arguments with your stepchildren. Your role is to support your partner. Yes, you have the right to share with your partner and stepchildren your feelings about how their behavior makes you feel. However, it is not your role to discipline their children.
4. Adult Children Can Still Have a Hard Time Adjusting to a Parent's Remarriage. Kids love their parents and they want them to be happy. They may not think you can make their parent happy or don't like the idea of their parent being with someone new. Especially if you seem overly "mother-ing" or involved in their lives. If their other parent was detached, uninvolved, neglectful or struggled with mental health issues they may also have some nurturing or attachment needs to work through.
5. Discuss household expectations before moving in together. It is important to talk about if you will share household duties of cooking, cleaning, chores, weekly allowance, curfews, money matters, school schedules, making time to spend with your respective children without your new spouse being present and ways to foster a friendly relationship between family members.
6. Consider Working With a Blended Family Coach . A blended family coach can work with you and your spouse on issues relating to parenting, money, vacations, behavior expectations of your respective kids, explore ways you respond to conflict and how to support each other while showing your kids they are important too.
Do you have specific questions about the emotional aspects of divorce or remarriage? Are you struggling to get along with your ex without pulling your hair out? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Until next time,
Sara Minges, M.S., Blended Family Coach
Sara Minges, M.S. is a Blended Family/Co-Parenting Life Coach with 25+ years experience being part of a blended family. A former play therapist specializing in high conflict family attachment relationships, she coaches parents through the divorce process, ways to help their kids adjust and helping blending families successfully transition. Sara holds a B.A. in Psychology with a Minor in Child and Famiyl Studies from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, a M.S. in Counseling Psychology from Avila University and she's the Owner of Playful Awareness, a co-parenting coaching practice in the Kansas City area. She has been featured in KC Parent Magazine, Yahoo Personals, KC Live, Better Kansas City, 41 Action News, Fox 4, Women's Radio Network, KMBZ and the Lawrence Journal World. Sara can be reached on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn or by sending an email to email@example.com.