Saturday, January 23, 2010

Stepfamilies Are Different - Part 2

Before we continue on with the remainder of the major differences between step- and nuclear families I'd like to remind you that stepfamilies CAN be happy and successful and am going to give you a few hints on how you can assist this process as it relates to the two points we explored last week.

a. Your stepchild only has blood ties with your partner.

Hint: Befriend your stepchild/ren gently and slowly.

Remember that having no blood ties means that you need to find other ways of connection:

  • Spend time with them.
  • Show your interest in what is important to them.
  • Do things with them that they enjoy doing.
  • Help them feel liked, acknowledged and accepted.
  • Let them know that you are for them, not against them.

Remember that, even though these suggestions may be really difficult to adopt, your stepchild will sooner or later respond to you reaching out to them. As a consequence your life will, in time, become much less stressful. Additionally, you are laying the foundation for a future friendship with your stepchild, which will be rewarding for you both.

b. Unless your stepchild’s biological parent is deceased or permanently absent, the parenting job has to be shared with your partner’s ex.

Hint: Realize that your partner’s ex most likely struggles as much with your presence in their life as you struggle with their presence in yours. Frequently ex-partners are terrified that their children might prefer the other home and/or their stepparent to them.

Help your partner’s ex know that you are not trying to replace him or her in their children’s lives. Remember that it’s the children who suffer most if you cannot connect with the ex on any level. Your life is likely to be much more peaceful if you “bury the axe” with your partner’s ex.

Stay tuned for the next post....

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