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10 ‘Must Dos’ to Dealing With Children in Blended Families
Help! The new love of my life already has children!
The new love of your life is a single parent who may be divorced, widowed or divorced; and you think of a blended family. You are now wondering what to do to make your second marriage harmonious as you want to build a lasting and loving relationship with his children and blended families.
So what are the 10 “must haves”, they are:
1. Honestly review your commitment and understand the consequences of your choice.
Can you take a “ready” family? Do your lifestyle, character, profession, well-being and morals match the tasks and time needed by the children? Are you “hard-skinned” enough to the questions, remarks, and unwanted stories that people who influence children might lead them to believe?
Above all, though, are you ready to commit to being their parent? Either way, they’ve already been through a lot of pain, so if you don’t want to be involved, think carefully before they get too close to you and then have their hearts broken again.
2. Introduce yourself slowly.
Your partner’s children may be used to keeping them to themselves, so when you, a stranger, come around all the time, they may become confused. If they are young, they may look at you with suspicion and protect their parents or be jealous that you took him away (in their eyes). Your regular presence can cause a sudden big change, so you need to be careful. You definitely don’t just “move in” even if the kids are very young. Start by joining your partner on a casual outing, don’t be too familiar with them or your partner (even that, Do you hold hands in front of them first), and above all, take time to build a relationship. with them, showing a genuine interest in who they are and what they are interested in. Let them get to know you as you get to know them.
3. Be honest about who you are.
You can introduce yourself in the beginning as a friend of their parents, but never lie to the children as it will increase mistrust at all levels. Tell them (gently) that you and their parents are dating and that you care about each other.
4. Adapt to the family lifestyle.
The name “blended” family is for a reason. You can’t just rush in and suggest or make too many changes, demands or new rules. You have to learn how the family works together first because they worked well before you got there. Be sensitive; creating aversion will set you back a long way. Most quarrels arise accidentally or without malice; however, it takes a long time to recover from them. If possible, never disagree with your new partner in front of their children, and don’t punish them yourself or show disrespect to their traditions, values, and family members, especially the other biological parent. You can choose to disagree on really serious things, but stick to your ethics. Over time, you can start to suggest different ways or bring your own values into the mix, but don’t rush it.
5. Give them space.
Before your arrival, children have had exclusive access to their parent, so they may not want to discuss their innermost thoughts with the new person in their parent’s life. Give them space, let them stay in their rooms if they’re sad but don’t want to talk, make an excuse to leave the house if you notice they want to talk to their biological parent, and don’t assume you’re welcome at school counseling sessions or parent/teacher night. Expect to be invited into their space, their friends and their hearts.
6. Be prepared to roll with the punches.
Young people can be very cruel with their words, especially when they are said in emotional times! You need a thick skin here. In his Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz emphasizes that Agreement #3 “Don’t take it personally” is never a truer word than in the relationship between stepparents and their stepchildren. If the child is personal, be mature and gentle, but firmly justify why his behavior is not acceptable.
7. Discuss rules, corrections and fighting them with your partner while the kids are gone.
If you need to discuss the relationship and interactions between your partner, yourself and your grandchildren, make sure you do it out of their earshot. Either talk when they’re gone or you’re out without them. Children have an innate feeling when you talk about them or something that affects them. They have a strange habit of showing up at the wrong time or listening and can miss the point of the conversation. If you find yourself arguing with your partner about the subject, it will only cause more problems.
8. Prevent overcompensation.
Overcompensation can come in many forms, financial, physical, verbal or just plain teasing. Also, if you have children of your own, overcompensating or treating your stepchildren differently will lead to problems in your own family. Always treat them with kindness, love, care and respect. Letting them have their way or letting them get away with inappropriate behavior will only lead to problems later.
9. Don’t criticize the “other” biological parent.
Always hold your tongue when it comes to the other biological parent. Expressing an opinion, making disparaging remarks, negative comments, or criticizing them is the fastest way to take a big step back in your relationship with your new family. Just remember that the same doesn’t happen the other way around, so be prepared for some nastiness, as they will likely see you as their replacement in both your partner’s and their children’s lives.
10. Let the children decide how you fit into their lives.
Let the kids take the lead; it’s your job to build trust, be sensitive, and be an adult. Think about what kind of relationship you would like to have with them (a friend or sister is not the best), maybe something like your favorite aunt, trusted advisor or mentor are good. Also don’t try to get them to call you mom or dad, they may one day, but it has to be their decision, even if they are very young now and it seems logical, or they pick it up from their friends.
Working through a second marriage can be confusing, and creating blended families can become very difficult if you’re not prepared.
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