Parenting-IssuesBlending Families; Blended families, step-parents and remarriage present challenges;

1. Post divorce, people need to give themselves and their children time to adjust to a new life. This includes adjusting to Step-Parents. Accustomed to living with both biological parents under one roof, children must now learn how to move from parent to parent households according to custody agreements reached during divorce proceedings.

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2. It isn’t easy for kids to adapt to changes in family structure. That is why it’s important that adults, when contemplating remarriage, take time to get to know one another and to help the children get to know all the potentially new family members, including future step-parents. It’s been suggested that parents build a solid foundation for themselves and for their children by taking a couple of years before actually marrying and blending. Those years need to be used to learn about and adapt to all the new players in the family. This means being with one another for more than weekend visits. However the adults plan to do this it needs to be done gradually, with an ever increasing intensity and depth of relating.

3. It’s vital that stepparents understand that it will take time before they win acceptance of their partner’s children. There will be lots of frustrations along the way, with the possibility of the stepchild attempting to disrupt the new family structure. It’s important to understand that these children feel scared regarding remarriage and about all the new arrangements and that is why lots of patience and time is needed.

4. When blending families, It’s important for all involved not to allow the children to force a choice between the parent and their new partner. Children must gradually learn that the new arrangement involves mutual acceptance and not choosing alliances.

5. Clear boundaries and specific ground rules must be set for mutual respect.

6. Ideally, when blending families it is best if all biological parents accept one another, at the very least, for the sake of the children. Open communication is necessary as a way to prevent childhood manipulation via playing parents and step-parents against one another. Remember to consider the special Step-Parent relationship.

7. One good way to build a solid family foundation is to have daily family rituals. For example, dinner at the family table every night with everyone present is a good way to build solid relationships. Parents need to find some time each day to have private time with their biological child in order to provide attention, warmth and reassurance that they are loved by their biological mom and dad.

8. There are many stepparent support groups in the community that provide suggestions, advice and emotional support for stepparents, a great resource for those considering remarriage.

9. There can never be too much communication. Each day, ongoing talking, conflict resolution, decision making, and planning need to go on.

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For help with remarriage, divorce, step-parents and blended families consult with a professional.

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