A blended family consisting of one parent, kids, and a step parent has some advantages over a blended family with two sets of kids, but that is not to say things are easier.
Often, the step parent moves into an established home where he or she is the only newcomer. This makes moving into the unfamiliar territory of a blended family more difficult. In a perfect world, each new blended family should move into a home entirely new to everyone, but in many cases that is just not feasible. Moving into the home of your marital predecessor can be difficult, but a considerate and empathetic partner can encourage you to make the kinds of changes you need to feel more comfortable. Stepping into former spouse territory will likely be easier, though, than stepping into the space of your step kids’ other parent. As you modify the new step family home, be considerate of theirfeelings and try to make it easier. Your step kids may appreciate photographs of absent parents or other family pictures being hung on their own bedroom walls, for example.
Step moms and other starring roles
Step moms who move into a home where dad and the kids have established familiar routines and family roles may find themselves being cast into the roleof Wicked Stepmother, deserved or not. Some step moms do consider auditioning for the role of Big Sister, or Best Friend, but luckily are often rebuffed. Luckily, your step kids need your role to be that of step mom, in partnership with their dad. Put your energy into being the kind of step mom who loves their dad, treats them with loving kindness and consideration, and expects to be treated with respect.
Step dad, Pal, or Captain Obedience?
If you think you can just slip in and make wholesale changes to the lives of your step kids, think again. No matter whether your step kids need a friend, need to show more respect for their mother, or need a splash of reality in their lives, what they need most is that you love and respect their mother and treat them fairly.They need you to stand firm with their mom when it comes to discipline, and to be the kind of step dad who is there when they need him.
Rules and discipline
Even when there is just one more person added to the family mix, there is a great need for formalized step family ground rules. Mutual respect should always be first and foremost on the list, especially for communications between step kids and their step parents. There may be times when people do not agree, but they can be perfect times to model the skill of disagreeing without being disagreeable.
Step parents often worry ifthey do not immediately fall in love with their step kids. Love usually takes time, especially if you are met with suspicion or outright hostility. Try not to feel guilty about it, and concentrate on getting to know your step kids, without expectations or judgment.In the beginning, it is enough to know that your partner expects you to try. It may help to think of love as something that is not earned, but something that is given away unreservedly.
If you feel like an outsider in your blended family, give it time. Let your step kids get to know you. Take care that you give credit for something well done, use restraint in advice or correction, and be open to every opportunity. It is worth the effort. The Blended and Step Family Resource Centercan further give you tips on how to manage your blended family.