Congratulations! You are getting married and looking forward to a happy future with your new spouse. Perhaps one or both of you are bringing your own child or children into the relationship and blending two families together.
Yes, it can be complicated, but luckily there are some simple tips that can help smooth the transition for all of you.
- Take your time.
It may take weeks, months or years for your stepchild to accept you as part of the family. This probably has little to do with you, and everything to do with her hurts and sorrows. Don’t take things personally and try to see things from her point of view. Let your natural compassion flow toward a fellow human being who is struggling.
- Ask your stepchild to help you or to teach you something new.
Enlist help choosing gifts or creating a menu of favorite recipes. Be patient. He may not feel like helping yet. Give him time and keep trying. Smile when he declines your request and say, “Maybe another time.”
- Discuss the basics. How do you plan to do birthdays as a family, divide jobs, and keep the household clean and running?
- Take a parenting course together so you can be on the same page.
What are your methods of discipline and how will you share this responsibility?
- Create a family mission statement or design several “Rules to Live By.”
Posting words such as Respect, Kindness, Love, Teamwork and Patience helps you bring these values into being. This works especially well when the children are involved in creating them. You might be inclined to bring out the markers, paper, scissors, tape and old magazines.
- Have family meetings on a regular basis.
Make plans, check schedules and enjoy each other’s company. A yummy snack or a game helps. Take turns sharing something you are thankful for or something you learned during the week. Stay loose and go with the flow.
- Keep your sense of humor and your sense of self.
- Schedule “special time” with each child as well as your spouse.
It doesn’t have to be long… 10-15 minutes a day is all it takes to create a close relationship, a happier child, and more cooperation and harmony. (For more details on Special Time, visit ahaparenting.com or handinhandparenting.com.)
There will be joys and challenges, laughter and tears in your years together as a new family. Love and the willingness to learn and work together will make it worthwhile. Best wishes!
Dr. Lesley Iwinski is the mother of three grown children, a family physician and owner of Growing Peaceful Families, LLC. She offers classes, workshops and seminars.
Info: (859) 333-3053 or www.growingpeacefulfamilies.com.