From Pam Rohr, author of Blended but not Broken – Hope and Encouragement for Blended Families:
Parenting matters is too often the very issue that tears couples apart.
Often times, when two newlyweds are alone, life is good. But add one or both sets of kids to the mix, and their happy marriage seems to go up in smoke.
Why is that? It’s a “couple issue” that is revealed when the kids are present. If the couple can reason together and agree on such issues as: discipline, parenting style and fairness, then they have a peaceful future ahead of them – even when the kids are around.
This takes work. It takes commitment. It takes healthy communication. It takes understanding and it takes agreement. I may men laying down the way you’ve always done it. It could mean an entirely new type of parenting that you both can get behind.
We tend to parent in the same fashion that our parents parented us. And, usually, our spouse comes from a different style.
Now, this combination could be complicated enough in a “first family” context, but when you throw in past parenting successes and failures that precede your marriage, and parenting in this new stepfamily can get very sticky.
Some keys to overcoming parenting obstacles include:
- Commit yourself to unconditionally loving your stepchildren. Kids can see right through someone who is not fully vested in the relationship and often don’t behave as though they appreciate the new parent. You may not always like them, but this commitment of love is critical.
- Spousal trust, support and communication are absolutely necessary. Both spouses must be certain that their hearts are for their children and not against them. I know that in first marriages, this is a given – even easy. There’s typically no jealousy or competition. However in stepfamilies, we see these plus criticism and general disagreement on how to raise the kids.
- Both parents must have a united front. Children can see holes in the armor and exploit these weaknesses all too easily. So, get behind closed doors and come to an agreement on parenting styles and rules before addressing your kids. And speaking of rules – keep them fair and equal across the board.
Ephesians 6:7 says:
Work with enthusiasm as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.
Your work in your family is worth the effort. I know it’s extremely difficult, but when your stepchild grows up and considers you not only a parent, but a friend, it becomes very obvious that it’s worth the hard work.
For more tips on how to successfully blend your stepfamily, visit www.nouveaulifecoaching.com.
And, for more encouraging and engaging podcasts and videos, visit the E-Squared Media Network at www.e2medianetwork.com.