As part of our Blended Family Friday series, each week we spotlight stepfamilies to learn how they’ve worked to bring their kids together. Our hope is that by telling their stories, we’ll bring you closer to blended family bliss in your own life! Want to share your story? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re a couple who’s new to raising stepkids, you’ll quickly realize that the task is pretty much like parenting on steroids.
To help you get through some of the initial hiccups of blended family life, we called on HuffPost Divorce bloggers and our Facebook community to share their tried-and-true advice. See what they had to say below, then add your best advice in the comments.
1. Don’t suggest that your step-kids “just call you dad” or their “bonus mom.”
“Don’t ever insist that they have to call you mom/dad. They may choose to, they may not, but don’t ever insist. ” — Becca Ross
2. Educate yourself.
“When you marry someone with kids, love isn’t enough. Stepfamily life is riddled with challenges that first marriages don’t face, but couples that educate themselves about stepfamily dynamics can increase their chances of succeeding — and beating the odds!” – Brenda Ockun
3. Let your spouse and their ex take the lead on discipline.
“Let the bio-parents discipline their children. Do not cross that boundary. I’ve learned from thirty years of experience that doing so can be a disaster.” — Bleakney Ray
4. Expect curveballs.
5. Know that the kids will almost certainly play favorites…
6. …And that it’s going to take time for bonds to form.
“Too often, stepparents don’t have the benefit of a history with a child from a young age. There’s been no opportunity to bond or gain trust — and yet you’re expected to love a stepchild immediately as if they are our own. Just as it takes time to create loving adult relationships and friendships, it takes time to feel emotionally connected to a child.” – Shelley Wetton
7. When home life gets stressful, take things in stride.
“Forgive. Respect. Accept. Relax.” — Katy Tyler
8. You’ll feel like an outsider in your own home at times.
“It’s completely normal to feel that way. After all, you’re an outsider joining an already-formed family — even if they move into your home. A lot of this is unintentional, but kids automatically go to their parent. You might be sitting right next to your partner and they won’t address you, often leaving you out of the conversation.” — Jenna Korf
9. Know that your patience will ultimately pay off.
“Be patient. No one tells you just how fulfilled and loved you feel when your step-kids tell you that they love you or call you dad or mom after you do something to support them. You never asked or expected them to give it but their love fills a void in your life.” — Nicholas Golden
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