From Pam Rohr, author of Blended but not Broken – Hope and Encouragement for Blended Families:
“I feel so happy that they’ve included me into their already established family.” This quote came from a dad I recently met who had married a widow with two kids. His wife and her children, of course, were already a family, and now he has been included into their family to create a new family. I sensed that he has really done some things right, and his appreciative and loving attitude spoke volumes as to the approach he most likely took to blending himself into his wife and kid’s family. Here are a few tips from my friend’s experience:
1) He probably did not come into the new family with the attitude of, “I’m the one in charge now, since I’m the man of the house, so everyone’s going to do things my way!”
If he had done this, he would have had quite a rebellion on his hands. First from the kids, who need to have a real relationship established before new rules are demanded on them; and second from his wife, who would have been insulted as to how she had already been running her home. So, instead of trying to change things up, he probably conformed to their already established home.
Now, his needs are important, too. But instead of coming into this established family and making them all change to his way of doing things, he has been able to adapt to their way of doing things.
As time progresses and there is something going on that he just cannot agree with, he and his wife will have to come to an agreement about the change, and then inform the kids together that this is what THEY, the parents, have decided for the family.
2) He most likely allowed the relationships with his new kids to develop naturally. He didn’t force himself upon them, but neither did he neglect them. He may have even carved out extra time with each kid separately so that he could get to know them and allow them to get to know him. By doing this, he’s letting them know that he’s interested and he wants to be an active part of their lives.
3) He probably stood by his wife in her decisions regarding the kids. He is a support to her. And as she sees his love for her kids, she will feel safer with the way he would like to do things. If a parent feels that their spouse does not love their children, it’s very hard to relinquish the authority that would otherwise be given if she knew he loved her kids.
Now, liking and loving are two different things. Sometimes, even with our own kids, we don’t exactly like what they are doing or the choices they are making. Or maybe we don’t like their attitude.
But we love them. We want what’s best for them. We don’t give up on them.
When a parent sees their spouse love their children unconditionally, trust and unity are built. Loving your step-children will go a long way for your marriage. Coming into an already established family, as a man, may be a bit easier than for a woman coming into an already formed family. Usually more is expected of the woman in regards to the kids. Stereotypically, she is expected to take them to games, picking them up, making sure they get to school on time, meals, homework, chores, etc.
But over time, and as trust between the family members builds, she will have more of a say in what she would like in her family. She may see things that had been overlooked with the kids that need to be addressed. She may bring in some organization that may have been lacking.
Discussing the changes that you would like to make with your spouse – behind closed doors – is recommended. Then, together, you will let the kids know of the new change. Let the parent do the talking, so that the kids do not blame the new spouse.
Psalm 68:6 says, “God sets the lonely in families…”, so if you have been set in an already made family, be thankful and let Him use you to be the best parent and spouse for them.
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.