Blending families while dating
Consider, for example, simple things like a regular family mealtime.It can be a great opportunity to get to know each other better.3) Dating with young kids is a special kind of torture designed to make you feel as unappealing and baggage-ridden as possible, but of course you don’t go introducing the kids and your paramour unless you think he’s going to be sticking around. I assumed this would go pretty smoothly because, hey, it’s not like we’re integrating kids on both sides. And my poor husband gave up the role of lifelong bachelor to embrace his new insta-family, which happened to include two very chatty, high-needs kids and their neurotic mother. We adults secretly celebrated it as a breakthrough on the day she brought the book down to the kitchen table to mock it during dinner. She then showed us a sidebar illustration of a cartoon girl with her hands out in a “stop” gesture where the perspective was such that the hands were the largest part of the drawing. We’re all still here, still married, and no one has gone to jail. There has also been a lot of baptism by fire and more than our fair share of crisis and heartbreak and illness, I think, plus both kids are now teens (which is its own kind of crisis and heartbreak and illness). It’s scary and awesome and ragged and perfect and always changing. The one thing my husband started doing very early on which I do recommend to others is that he will tell a mouthy child, “Don’t talk to my wife that way, that’s disrespectful and it’s not okay in this house.” They’re good kids, but they’d never heard someone stand up for their mom like that, before. And he refers to them as “our kids” but always maintains a respectful boundary, reminding them that he would never try to (or want to) replace their dad. “This says that I should say things like, ‘Doug, this is making me uncomfortable’ if my stepfather is trying too hard to be chummy and it’s bothering me.” She looked up from the book to point at my husband. I don’t remember the specific text, but for several years the universal diffuser of tension during family discussions became, “Stop! My husband can (and does) discipline the kids, now, and I’m pretty sure no one has ever screeched, “You’re not my father! S., and the number of single-parent households, I suspect that households in which parents are married and raising only the children they made or adopted together are now actually in the minority, or close to it.Chances are excellent that if you’re a parent, you are also a stepparent, or have a stepparent, or your spouse is a stepparent.” My only-inside-my-head response was, “Oh dear God, why does anyone think I have any idea how to do that?” I got divorced from my children’s father when they were 3 and 5. Eventually, of course, we told them we were dating, and then he asked them for their permission before he proposed to me. Our situation was complicated by the fact that the kids and I moved 1,000 miles away from their dad shortly after the wedding, due to my husband’s job. Some of the advice was universal: Let the parent take the lead, with stepparent playing a supportive but non-disciplinary role, at first. Don’t expect instant harmony, and don’t put pressure on the kids to accept the new status quo right away.
Give each one a space of their own in the home, including a place at the dinner table. Take Course Nancy Ryan is a Licensed Marriage & Family therapist helping individuals deal with anxiety, depression and self esteem issues.Understand and empathize with your stepchildren’s struggle to accept the new family arrangement. It could be overwhelming for a child who feels their entire world has already become unhinged.Engage in activities that unite your new family – Nothing bridges the gap between stepparents and stepchildren better than enjoying good times together.No matter how great the relationships are between you and your new spouse and between the stepsiblings, once it’s time to move in together, things can get (make that get) tricky. If they feel like they are part of the process, they will be less anxious about the unknown.Not only are families merging, but rules, discipline styles and communication tactics are also coming together.