Doing Life Together

Doing Life Together


Five Tips to Help Your Child Adjust to a Stepparent

posted by Linda Mintle

ID-10041666Terry slouched on my therapy couch and mumbled, “My mom has a new husband. She wants me to be nice to him, but I don’t feel like being nice. I’m sick and tired of not seeing my dad. I don’t like this strange guy walking around my house and telling me he’s my friend. He’s not my friend. He’s a stranger. I want my dad back.”

The challenge of living with a stepparent requires time and patience from all family members. Suddenly there is a stranger sharing the bathroom, giving directions, and checking your homework. Mom or dad is no longer exclusively yours. One parent’s daily presence is lost. Holidays become complicated. And what do you call this new person who shows up at the breakfast table with habits that annoy you? 

From the child’s point of view, his/her family has been torn apart and replaced with another. This loss and new arrangement were not by choice. Feelings of anger linger long after the parents’ divorce is final. If the child hasn’t openly worked through anger and unforgiveness towards the original parents, these feelings carry over to the blended family.

So, what can parents do to help children adjust to newly formed families?

1) Ask God for wisdom to discern the needs of your children. The remarried couple is delighted to put their former marriages behind them and is hopeful about the future. Children of divorce are not in the same place. Often their feelings of rejection intensify when strangers enter the family. Remarried adults must constantly ask, “What are the needs of the children?”

2) Blended families should not pretend to be a replacement family for children. The reality is that children lose a parent and parents gain a new partner. You must continually talk about this fact. Encourage emotional expression. Reassure the children that no matter what they feel, you can handle it and will deal with it. 

3) Be patient. While stepchildren need to be helped through the transition of blending a family, don’t force closeness. It takes time for a child to get to know a new adult and feel comfortable having him or her in the house. It is normal for a child to want the original family back so he/she doesn’t have to divide loyalties, visitation, and important dates.

4) Be careful to give children privacy when it comes to their physical bodies.  As stepparents, you did not change their diapers, tuck them into bed every night, and you are not biologically related. Therefore, you must be extra sensitive to appropriate physical boundaries.

5) Keep God the center of family life. He is your constant source of strength and healing. Be a family who prays and commits to working through even the toughest emotions and disappointments.

 



  • http://www.toptensworld.com/ Wally

    This five step is great. More advice for me as parent to do.

Previous Posts

Relatives Who Drink Too Much: How to Handle it
Question: We will be traveling to our relatives in another state for several family gatherings during Christmas. Two of my siblings are problem drinkers and I am not sure how to handle this with my family. We do not drink so my children are not used to seeing family members act up while under the in

posted 6:00:57am Dec. 18, 2014 | read full post »

Christmas Shopping With Toddlers: Dr. Linda's 10 Tips
A reader asks: As much as I love to shop on-line, I prefer to tackle the masses during Christmas and head to the malls and store. My question is, “How can I shop with two little ones (ages two and four) and remain sane?” I will have to take them with me but really want to give it a try.  

posted 6:00:45am Dec. 17, 2014 | read full post »

What's Eating You This Holiday Season? Keep a Log and Find Out!
Joanne looked at the chocolate-covered donut in her hand. As she took her first bite, she wondered, "Why am I eating this? I''m not really hungry, but the plate of goodies sitting by the office coffee pot just looks good. Besides, my boss is making me crazy! But is there more to the story? F

posted 6:00:24am Dec. 16, 2014 | read full post »

10 Ideas to Avoid Depression During the Holidays
It's the most wonderful time of the year....well, not for everyone. Holidays can be difficult if you struggle with your mood and family issues. However, there are proactive ways to keep your spirit bright. 1) Don't overspend. Avoid being caught up in all the deals, discounts and e-shopping. Fi

posted 6:00:31am Dec. 12, 2014 | read full post »

6 Tips to Avoid Child Meltdowns During the Holidays
Are you dreading that trip in the car to grandparents? Is the hype of the holidays overstimulating your children? Too  much sugar, too little sleep? Try these 6 tips:   1) Routines and rituals: Try to keep as many going as you can. Even when you travel, insist on a regular bedti

posted 6:00:20am Dec. 10, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.