During any new marriage there’s an adjustment period. When there are kids involved, making it a blended family, there will definitely be a period of adjustment – for everyone. As family members begin to learn more about each other and their new roles there will inevitably be some challenges. Here are a few tips to help manage the transition.
1. Be Patient – Remind yourself this will take time. Chances are the kids will not fall in love with their new stepparent or step-siblings overnight. The same goes for parents. It may take some time to fall wholeheartedly in love with your new step-children, particularly if they are having a difficult time with the transition and are acting out. It’s ok to take some time. Trying to force a relationship too fast won’t help anything. Try to allow a little space while still being available to them when ready. Remind yourself that blending a family is a big transition and each individual family member may be working on their own time frame.
2. Make Time for Each Other – As a newly married couple with children it may be difficult to find the time to connect with each other one-on-one. Make dates a priority. Investing time in your marriage can strengthen your foundation and help you both to lean on each other during what may be a difficult transition. It’s smart for you not just as a couple, but as new co-parents. Spending the time to connect with each other can help provide the support you need to remain strong and be consistent with the kids.
3. Set Family Boundaries and Expectations – Take the time to lay some ground-rules with the family early on and involve the kids in the process. Let them know there is an expectation of respect for every family member. (This also goes for members not present – don’t speak negatively about the child’s “real” parent in front of them). It’s also important to note that in the beginning it’s best for the biological parent to be the disciplinarian, not the stepparent. Stepparents need time to build relationships with stepchildren before they can easily step into the role of disciplining.
Take a deep breath. Building a family is a marathon, not a sprint. Work hard to develop a home environment that will foster organic growth in the individual relationships.
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