Are you a stepparent? Are you struggling to make the right decisions for your newly created family? If so, here are four tips to help.
1. Give your blended family a chance to bond.
Don’t worry if everyone doesn’t settle in right away; bonding takes time. Hopefully, you all got to know each other before you moved in together, but the transition to living comfortably together can take time.
2. Have family meetings weekly.
Give everyone (kids, too) a chance to share how they feel, what they like and don’t like, and ask them to share both positive and negative opinions. Invite suggestions about how to make things better. Shared times, such as mealtimes, are important -- but each person needs a break, too. Don’t allow the schedule to be too busy -- plan some time off. 3. Get on the same parenting page.
Mom and Dad need to work out parenting methods, rewards, punishments, chores, allowances, bedtimes, homework, etc. Each of your single-parent families is unique, and everyone has to adjust to change. Transition is much easier if the parents are in agreement. If something happens you haven’t discussed, just defer to one parent, and work it out later. If you allow the kids to create discord between you, they’ll jump on it right away, and make your lives miserable. 4. If you have shared custody with one or more outside parents, resolve any conflicts with them right away.
Ex-spouse struggles can become disasters. You’ll all be connected for life. Help the children transition from one household to another by “debriefing” when they come home. “How was your visit?” Then talk about the system at your house. Tina Tessina, Ph.D., has been a licensed California psychotherapist for more than 30 years. She has authored more than 11 books, including "Money, Sex and Kids"; “The Commuter Marriage: Keeping your Relationship Close While you’re Far Apart”; "How to Be a Couple and Still Be Free"; "The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again"; and, “It Ends with You: Grow Up and Grow Out of Dysfunction.” Tina can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.