With remarriage, a stepfamily is part of the package, and it can be a difficult transition for both the parents and as well as the children. We explore how to rebuild the bonds and survive in a blended family.
“A stepfamily is founded on a tragedy. Someone died, or a relationship died to make it happen,” says Suzie Hayman from Parentline Plus.
Make sure the children know it’s not their fault:
Children can often blame themselves for the breakup, so the first step is to talk with them and emphasis that none of the breakup is their fault.
Building bonds will take time:
In the process of a new stepfamily, everyone has their own personality, needs and reactions. Each person needs to be given time and respect, and shown that they are loved.
Children often keep loyalty to their birth parent, and can foster disloyalty, or even disrespect for their new parent. Jealously, insecurity, and resentment should be planned for, but worked through. If your partner’s children are intentionally making your life difficult – please don’t give up. It will take time to heal, but be available for them to talk to you about the things they may be feeling.
Don’t talk negatively about your ex:
“Never, ever criticise or discuss the other parent in front of your children. Often children are playing up because they are unhappy at not seeing both parents. Being rude about the other one in his or her absence will just make things worse,” says Suzie Hayman
Children are not at the age where they can understand why the breakup happened. Criticising your ex will foster more resentment, and confusion for them in the future.
This is a common factor in any family. Favouritism will only make it harder for your new family to grow.
Work together with your new partner:
Take on a united front. It’s a second chance for you, as well as the children, and the new house comes with rules. Sometimes it may be best to let the birth parent discipline their own children, but always be there to back them up and reiterate the rules.
“The children will have more adults caring for them and go through different experiences. They may have the opportunity for siblings and the chance to live in a happy family.”