Make your blended family a success — be a great stepparent
Blended families are complex. Knowing how to deal with your stepchild(ren) is essential to the success of your new marriage or new committed relationship. As well, when you consider the effects of divorce on children, it is essential that you now play a positive role in the lives of your stepchild or stepchildren.
Stepparents often have a difficult time defining their roles in dealing with the child of their new partner. This is especially relevant at the beginning of the relationship when ‘authority’ and ‘the right to parent’ have not been established. This is a good exercise to help you correctly build this new and important relationship.
After a period, that is different for each family and situation, slowly and cautiously, you can increase your authority with your stepchildren.
At first, when you begin living with your stepchildren you should hold back telling them what to do or trying to interact with them unless you see positive signs that they are willing to acknowledge your position in their new situation of living in a stepfamily.
Eventually, if all goes well you can graduate to a stepparent with ‘full parental authority.’ When this happens, it is good for everyone.
If you go ‘too fast’ trying to be a ‘loving and responsible’ stepparent you may unintentionally alienate your new partner and his or her child(ren).
This exercise suggests that you – as a stepparent – think of your role as a ‘roommate.’ Even though you may not want to define your role this way, thinking in those terms will enable you to interact successfully with your stepchild(ren) when you first start living with them.
Answer the following questions. Record your results below.
For more relationship-building worksheets visit: The Relationship Healing Toolbox
List 5 responsibilities you think are reasonable as a sensitive and responsible roommate.
What are five things you expect from a roommate?
What do you do when a roommate doesn’t fulfill his or her responsibilities?
How would you approach your roommate if he or she were not behaving as a good citizen in your shared home?
How would you motivate your roommate to cooperate in doing chores?
What would you do to avoid expressions of anger when discussing problems with your roommate?
Note: Healthy and happy blended families are notoriously difficult to build. Often, the help of a caring and experienced family therapist is required.