From Pam Rohr, author of Blended but not Broken – Hope and Encouragement for Blended Families:
Get your game plan ready.
“When it’s just the two of us, we have a great relationship. Add the kids and that’s when we have problems”. I have heard this grievance more times than I can count.
Remarriage with kids can be very difficult to say the least. Birth parent and child do things a certain way. They understand each other. They know what is expected of each other and have a relationship that works for them. But then you bring in new spouse who is also a new stepparent and they are shocked to find that you don’t do things the way they do or think you should. They don’t understand why you are not more firm or in some cases more lenient with your child. They do things certain ways and expect the house to be run a certain way. But it’s not the way you have done it and it’s not what your child is used to. The stepparent wants the house run the way they think it should be run and you want to continue running your home the way you’ve always run it.
At first, the differences may seem insignificant. But as you settle into your new life, they become more important. Discipline styles may become an issue if you have different approaches and values.
There is no other challenge greater to stepfamily success than the ability of the couple to parent from the start as a team. Stepparents must join their partner in raising their child, they need to find their role and not take liberty in crossing boundaries. They need to know their limits in authority and receive their power from the birth parent so they can contribute in parental leadership, guidance and later on friendship.
Enforcing rules without having an established relationship cause resentment and anger in the child. By an established relationship I mean, one where the child knows you like them and you have earned their respect. Taking the time to develop a relationship with your stepchild is crucial to the family. Not only will the stepparent and child benefit but your marriage will benefit. So for the sake of your marriage, if for no other reason, try to figure out a way to develop a good relationship with your stepchild. Your spouse will love you for it.
On an earlier podcast I described the different types of parenting styles. You can listen to them on the podcast called “Parenting Styles”.
Before you are remarried, it’s very helpful to discuss how you parent, what your expectations are for your new partners role in parenting with you, and of course what the new stepparents expectations for their role in the new family unit. It makes life easier for all to come to an agreement before you enter into the new roles. If you didn’t get to do this with a coach, it’s not too late. I am available to assist you in getting your family on the right track again. Many of the issues in families are couple issues. If the couple can be in agreement and walk together in unity, the whole family benefits.
I look forward to hearing from you and may God bless your efforts as you blend your stepfamily.
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