From Pam Rohr, author of Blended but not Broken – Hope and Encouragement for Blended Families:
One study shows that an important aspect to being a very happy couple in stepfamilies is the ability to come together around matters of parenting. These happy couples have discussed, and come to an agreement, on how to raise their children. Couples who find unity regarding discipline grow closer together and are much better equipped to manage the various things that come up while parenting.
There are five basic parenting styles. The key to effective stepfamily blending is first recognizing what your current styles are; second changing your own to a more healthy style; and third make sure that you and your spouse utilize the same style.
1) Authoritarian: Rigid rules and expectations are strictly enforced. Obedience is expected and demanded. Authoritarians often show a lack of concern for the wishes or opinions of others and can be very domineering. Teenagers almost always tend to rebel against this style of parenting. Children of Authoritarian parents tend to be conflicted, irritable, moody, unhappy and are more vulnerable to stress. Also, if there are problems in a first marriage with Authoritarian parenting issues, you can imagine how the amount of difficulty is magnified within the context of a stepfamily. Now, we all need house rules and obedience is a must, but taken to extremes, this style will cause incredible amounts of stress, grief and detachment in the parents and children alike.
2) Permissive: The children’s preferences take priority over the parents’ ideals. Reasonable behavior standards are often tossed out the window. Rules and expectations are inconsistent and easily manipulated by the children in order to get what they want. A “loving friendship” is often what the parent is after, but it results in the child learning impulsive aggressive behavior. In these homes, the children often end up being rebellious, domineering, and low achievers.
3) Rejecting: The children’s needs are rejected but the parent still holds high expectations on how the children should behave. These families usually exhibit very low emotional connection and the children are often unsure if they are, in fact, loved. This causes the child to feel as if they aren’t “good enough”, which results in very low self-esteem and an array of other psychological problems.
4) Uninvolved: Neglectful parents often ignore the children and let them do whatever they want, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the parents’ activities. Similar to parents with rejecting parenting styles, these parents are often emotionally uninvolved. The main difference being that these parents do not have many rules or expectations. Instead, they leave the child alone, without consistent boundaries. Children of Uninvolved parents often become withdrawn loners and underachievers.
5) Authoritative: Clear rules, expectations and limits are established. They are consistent and the children know what to expect. The children’s opinions are acknowledged and valued, but reason and parental power are used to enforce the parents’ standards. Flexibility and emotional closeness are hallmarks of these loving relationships. This type of parenting establishes a safe environment, where the children experience unconditional support, encouragement, and affection. They know that they are loved, even if they don’t agree with all the rules. Obviously, this is the style of parenting we should strive for.
Remember it is up to each parent to change his or her style. You cannot force your spouse to change.
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