Second Marriages and Stepchildren
But like most problems, there are things that can be done when you have stepchildren and still be able to enjoy a relatively cohesive second marriage. The first thing is to have understanding and to realize that anything worth having takes time and hard work. Also, realize that realistic expectations will be knowing that:
– a blended family will not be an instant, loving family;
– the stepchildren will not automatically love you;
– they will not necessarily respect and obey you;
– they may not be fair in their treatment of you;
– they will probably not think and behave like adults;
– the children’s biological parent will not always agree with your point of view;
– the biological parent may not think you are being as fair with their children as your own;
– there is likely to be problems with non-custodial biological parents around holiday time, special events and school activities;
– you may have to live up to the memories of a deceased parent or spouse;
– the biological parent may not believe the step-parent is as affectionate with their children as they should be;
– you or your spouse may have feelings of being left out, feeling jealous or possibly resentful of your partner’s children, possibly even disliking them because of the strong connection the biological parent has with their own children.
Before the marriage it is important that the couple consider the following in order to avoid power struggles and misunderstandings after they get married:
– Talk about your relationship – its strengths and any concerns you may have.
– Learn some communication and conflict resolution skills. Open communication will help with most difficulties.
– Talk about money and how each handles money. Are you on the same page with how you will handle the family finances?
– How do you deal with disagreements?
– How do you envision spending your leisure time?
– Discuss personality issues like being tidy or messy, organized or disorganized, stable or impulsive.
– Have a plan in place for how to handle the difficult times.
– Discuss how averse the children are to this new union, the difficulties there will be in creating a happy family unit and how to handle any problems.
– Discuss together how each of the stepchildren are feeling and why they feel the way they do.
– Decide not to rush into the marriage before potential problems have been discussed and a solution reached.
Following the marriage have family meetings when problems arise. Build positive encounters with stepchildren and initially don’t discipline them until trust has been established. Leave the disciplining to the biological parent. With all things considered, choose your battles wisely. Blended families can be very complicated with numerous grandparents, aunts and uncles as well as step-siblings.
With so many people involved, it is particularly important to keep tempers checked, patience on high and the doors to communication wide open.
Sylvia Behnish published her first non-fiction novel entitled “Rollercoaster Ride With Brain Injury (For Loved Ones)”. Her book has been written for those family members who are trying to cope with the devastating impact of brain injury in their lives. It is also written with the hope that it will help those who are going through a similar tragedy to realize they are not alone.