Christian Counselor Seattle
Today, there are just as many, if not more, blended families as there are traditional family units.
As a result, there is a growing need to address blended family problems. Parenting is never easy, but the challenges that blended families face are altogether different from the challenges traditional families face. Failing to understand how to deal with these issues places additional stress on your marriage and can ultimately lead to conflict and divorce.
Here is some advice on how to make your blended family one of peace and harmony:
1. Support the Role of the Biological Parent
Stepparents should find a role that compliments the biological parent. Even though this might go against your initial reaction, the step relationship needs time to develop. It is important not to be the heavy but you can’t disappear either. Maintaining your presence and at the same time supporting the bio parent is challenging, but will produce positive results. The reality is that when you relax and support the bio parent, the relationship with your stepchild will form faster. As a stepparent you can become a sounding board for your spouse. You can provide input and observation without forcing your views on the biological parent or openly disagreeing with them. The result will inevitably be counterproductive and bring conflict. In time, the biological parent can pass on the parenting role in front of the children. Be sure your role has your spouse’s blessing.
2. Don’t Compete With Your Counterpart
Don’t compete with your counterpart, rather, support them. In other words, don’t try to be a better mom than your step kids’ bio-mom, or a better dad than their bio-dad. No matter what you think of their parenting style it is important to respect and acknowledge the biological connection. Pressure to abandon, to demean or ignore the existence of the parent places the children is an intense loyalty bind that will inhibit his or her ability to form a relationship with the new step parent. Find a role that compliments the role of the same –sex biological parent and do not fail to include them in the important events of the child’s life.
3. Allow the Role to Reflect your Unique Strengths
The step parent’s role is an expression of their own unique style and strengths and can complement the style of the other parent. Be patient, there will be opportunities where your strengths and input will be valued. Be yourself; allow the role to develop gradually.
4. Discover and Explore Your Stepchild’s Interests
What are the things your stepchild likes? Start off as you would with any friendship: find some common ground and do things together you both enjoy. Remember, you are there to build a solid relationship and not take the place of their biological parents. In other words, start out with a relationship other than “parent” in order to build a relationship.
5. Avoid Jealousy
Let your spouse have one-on-one time with his or her children – without you. This helps reduce the displacement and loss the child might be feeling, and assures them they haven’t been displaced by someone else. In all blended families, this reassures the children that they still belong and haven’t lost the love of their bio-parent to the new spouse.
6. Act Lovingly Even if You Don’t Like Your Step Kids
It is to be expected that you may never love them or for that matter like them. And remember, you can’t make your step kids like you, either! You are the outsider. But even if you don’t like them, you can act lovingly toward them. Love is an action; so decide to express love toward your step children. It may surprise you what develops over time. It is important to recognize and understand the pain kids experience after divorce. They may act out, not having the skills to talk it out and express what they are feeling. If parents are able and willing to gain the skills to listen and understand what the child is going through, over time, the children will usually respond positively.
7. Place God in the Center of Your Home
Additional thoughts if space allowed would include, establishing new family traditions while being sensitive to old traditions, maintain a strong bond between the husband and wife, and clearly define and consistently follow through with family rules and priorities. But, the ultimate key to every family’s success, no matter the makeup of the family, is choosing to make God the centerpiece of your home. To be the kind of parent or spouse want to be requires patience, wisdom, and love. The best way to develop these character traits is to have a vibrant relationship with God. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you. Matt. 6:33
8. Get Family Counseling
There is no reason to feel bad if you find that your recently formed family needs family counseling. All blended family’s go through growing pains when they are first learning to live together and the family dynamics of a blended family are almost always complicated. New stepparents are unsure of their footing. Newly stepped children are usually worried about where they should place their loyalties. Family counseling will offer access to a trusted individual who will not take sides or play family members against each other. Another benefit is the lessons each family member will get in proper communication. There is no shame in taking part in family counseling, only the satisfaction in knowing you have done your best for your family.
freedigitalphotos.com -“Work And Do Together” by hin255; “Portrait Of Happy Family Of Four” by photostock
DISCLAIMER: THIS ARTICLE DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE
The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this article are for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please contact one of our counselors for further information.