Remarriage and blending families. As difficult as a divorce can be, it is often an opportunity for new beginnings. It is not uncommon for two people, each with children from a previous marriage, to fall in love and start a family together. In such situations, joining two families into one can be difficult to say the least. Following are some suggested tips for effective stepparenting in a blended family.
- Take time to build your relationship with your stepchildren – Having a loving, trusting relationship with your stepchildren will not happen overnight. It may take months, or even years, before your relationship is ideal. Be patient. It is often wise to defer to your spouse (e.g., the stepchild’s biological parent) for important decisions regarding the stepchild, including discipline. This may be hard at times, but it lets you be the good cop. Speak with your spouse frequently about such issues so that you can both be on the same page.
- Seek to know your stepchild – Building a relationship with your stepchild is much like building a relationship with a friend or coworker–strong relationships often start with the discovery of shared interests. Find out what your step child likes to do. Plan activities together that you both enjoy.
- Avoid being a replacement parent – Many stepchildren suspect that their step parent is trying to fill in for their other parent (e.g., your spouse’s ex). Let your stepchildren know that your relationship with them is a separate entity and does not, in any way, diminish their relationship with their biological parents. No matter what you think of your spouse’s ex, try your best to support their role as a parent.
- Show love, even when you don’t want to – Many stepparents feel guilty when they discover that they do not instantly love their new step children. Such love takes time. You will not feel the same way toward your stepchildren as you do your own children. That’s okay. However, you can always act in a loving way toward your stepchildren, even when they are not showing such love in return. As you do, you your relationship with them will grow stronger and stronger.
- Understand the challenge – Turning two families into one is hard. Many people, including yourself, may still harbor hurt and pain about how past relationships ended–hurt and pain that may surface in the new family dynamic. Just acknowledging that blending your family with your spouse’s family will be difficult is half the battle. Knowing that there will be speed bumps ahead will help you and your spouse prepare and plan for them.
Knowing When to Get the Help of a Family Law Attorney
Sometimes blending families presents legal challenges. For many people, a new relationship or new marriage may require alteration of child custody agreements or spousal support arrangements involving your ex spouse. The family law attorneys at Beck Law P.C., have years of experience helping people in all types of family situations. Our attorneys can answer your questions and help you handle the legal challenges involved in starting a new family. For a free consultation regarding custody issues or any other family law question, contact Beck Law P.C. at 707-576-7175 or visit us online.
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