Becoming an Effective Step Parent

Today’s family portrait is just as likely to display a blended family as a nuclear family. However, with over 75% of adults with children remarrying and 60% of those marriages ending in divorce, mostly because of the children, indicates that something is desperately wrong. Perhaps The Brady Bunch gave us a false impression of a blended family.

Blended families today vary widely but what is most common between them is difficulty blending. To be an effective step parent involves a lot of hard work, time, prayer and to be frank, disappointments. The following are a few good tips for starting off down the right path:

1. Just because you are now married does not mean your new spouse should be given automatic rights to discipline your children. Most often, this is the start of family turmoil. The children should only be disciplined by their biological parent. The non-biological parent should serve as support to their spouse. Private conversations between the husband and wife regarding house rules and discipline should occur and agreed upon very early on. They should be shared and followed through with all of the children so they know what to expect, which diminishes feelings of resentment.

2. Spend time with your own children separately. This is especially important in the beginning. It will bring much needed comfort and security to your children. They need to know that they are still a priority in your life. It is very important that separate time with your children is carefully balanced so they don’t become confused about the union of their new family. As for family time, be sure to regularly plan outings and family time together, which fosters the blending process. Make sure these times are used for enjoying one another and bonding, instead of reprimanding for last weeks misbehavior.

3. Do not compete with the parental role of the same sex biological parent. The child needs to know that their step-parent is an addition to their life, not a replacement of their same sex biological parent. Encourage their love and loyalty to the absent biological parent.

4. Lower your expectations. Even after many years, in contrast to nuclear families, most blended families lack family cohesiveness.

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