Losing A Son Instead Of Gaining A Daughter
Blended Families and Step-Parent Advice When your remarriage includes children from a previous relationship, blended families can take over. These tips can help you bond with your stepchildren and resolve stepfamily issues.
Losing A Son Instead Of Gaining A Daughter
A blended family or stepfamily is formed when you and your partner live together with one or both children from previous relationships. The process of forming a new blended family can be both a rewarding and challenging experience. While you as parents are likely to remarry and enter a new family with great joy and hope, your children or your new partner’s children may not be nearly as excited. They will likely feel uncertain about the upcoming changes and how they will affect their relationship with their natural parents. They will also be worried about living with new step-siblings, who they don’t know well, or worse, they don’t like.
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Some children may resist change, while you as a parent may be frustrated when your new family doesn’t work as well as your old family. While reconciling families is rarely easy, these tips can help the new family work through the growing pains. No matter how tense or awkward things may seem at first, with open communication, mutual respect, and lots of love and patience, you can develop a close relationship with your new stepchildren and create a loving and successful blended family.
Trying to make a blended family replicate your first family, or the ideal nuclear family, can often leave family members confused, frustrated, and disappointed. Instead, embrace the differences and consider the basic elements that make up a successful blended family:
To give yourself the best chance of success in creating a blended family, it’s important to start planning how the new family will work before the wedding.
After surviving a painful separation or divorce and then successfully finding a new loving relationship, the temptation can often be to remarry and move into blended families without first building a solid foundation. But by taking your time, you give everyone a chance to get used to each other and the idea of getting married and starting a new family.
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Too many changes at once can be unsettling for children. Blended families have the highest success rate if a couple waits two years or more after a divorce, rather than letting one major family change spill over into another.
Don’t expect to love your partner’s children overnight. Get to know them. Love and affection take time to develop.
Find ways to experience “real life” together. Taking the kids to an amusement park every once in a while is great fun, but it doesn’t reflect everyday life. Try using children in everyday life with your partner and their children.
Change parents before marriage. Agree with your new partner on how you want to co-parent and then make the necessary adjustments to your parenting style.
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You remarried. This makes for a smooth transition and your kids won’t resent your new partner for initiating change.
Don’t give ultimatums. Your children or a new partner may put you in a situation where you feel you have to choose between them. Remind them that you want them
Emphasize respect. You can’t force people to like each other, but you can demand that they treat each other with respect.
Limit your expectations. You can give your new partner’s children so much time, energy, love and affection that they won’t return immediately. Think of it as a small investment that could pay off big one day.
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With the right support, children should gradually adjust to the possibility of marriage and being part of a new family. It’s your job to communicate openly, meet their needs for security, and give them plenty of time to make a successful transition.
When a parent dies, the remarriage of the surviving parent can cause incomplete grief in children. Give them space and time to grieve.
You’ll increase your chances of a good relationship by thinking about what your new stepchildren need. However, age, gender and personality do not matter
Children have certain basic needs, and when these are met, they can help establish a rewarding new relationship.
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Safe and secure. Children want to be able to trust their parents and step-parents. Children of divorce already feel uncomfortable with people they believe will let them down, and may be unwilling to give new stepparents a second chance.
Valuable. Children often feel insignificant or invisible when it comes to decision-making in a new blended family. Acknowledge their role in the family when making decisions.
Heard and emotionally connected. Creating an honest and open, non-judgmental environment will help children feel heard and emotionally connected to the new stepparent. Show them that you can see the situation from their point of view.
Limits and Restrictions. Children may not think they need boundaries, but the lack of boundaries signals that the child is unworthy of a parent’s time, care, and attention. As a new stepparent, you shouldn’t step in as the enforcer at first, but work with your partner to set boundaries.
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Each child is different and will show how slow or fast you can go as you get to know them. Some children may be more open and willing to participate. Shy, introverted children may need to slow down and give them more time to warm up. With enough time, patience and interest, most guys will give you a chance eventually.
Creating family routines and rituals can help you bond with your new stepchild and bring the whole family together. Plan to implement at least one new family ritual, such as a Sunday beach trip, a weekly game night, or special ways to celebrate family birthdays. Establishing regular family meals, for example, provides a great opportunity to talk and bond with your children and stepchildren as well as encourage healthy eating habits.
Children of different ages and genders adjust to different families. A two-year-old girl has different physical and emotional needs than a 13-year-old boy, but don’t mistake developmental and age differences for different basic needs. Although a teenager may take a long time to accept your love and affection, it does not mean that he does not want it. You need to adapt your approach to different age levels and genders, but your goal of establishing a solid relationship remains the same.
When you merge two families, for example, differences in parenting, discipline and lifestyle can create challenges and become a source of frustration for children. This may include:
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Age difference. In blended families, natural siblings may have children with birthdays that are closer together than possible, or the new stepparent is only a few years older than the older child.
Inexperience of parents. A step-parent may never have been a parent before and therefore may not have experienced the various stages that children go through.
Changes in family relationships. If both parents remarry partners in existing families, it means that children can suddenly find themselves in different roles in two blended families. For example, a child may be the oldest in one stepfamily but the youngest in another. Family blending can also mean that a child loses their identity as the only boy or girl in the family.
Difficulty accepting new parents. If children have spent a long time in a single-parent family, or still expect their parents to reconcile, it can be difficult for them to accept the new person.
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Dealing with the demands of others. In blended families, planning family events can be complicated, especially when there are custody considerations to consider. Children may be frustrated that holidays, parties or weekend trips now require complicated arrangements to include their new step-sister.
Changes in family traditions. Many families have very different ideas about how to spend annual events such as holidays, birthdays, and family vacations. Children can become resentful if they are forced to follow someone else’s routine. Try to find some common ground or create new traditions for your blended family.
Parental insecurity. Stepparents may be concerned about how they compare to the child’s natural parent, or resentful if stepchildren compare them unfavorably to the natural parent.
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Establishing trust is critical to creating a strong, cohesive blended family. At first, children may feel uncertain about their new family and shy away from trying to get to know them. It is often the only anxiety to share with your parents
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