This content is part of a series.
The Ins And Outs of Successful Step Parenting
Series: Blended Families (Part 3)
Shanna D. Gregor and Bobbie Rill
Significant conflict occurs because of unclear expectations and lack of preparation for the rigorous of step parenting. Again, you can better prepare by anticipating questions children might have, analyzing situations that your children might encounter and discussing them in advance. Roleplaying is a great tool to help families see challenges from a new perspective.
When conflict occurs, ask a few questions:
One of the situations almost all stepparents encounter is the “You’re not my real parent” scenario. The biggest mistake anyone can make is to expect their stepfamily to carry on the same way they did in their previous marriage. They may expect to continue the same parenting styles and communication patterns that worked before to work in the new relationships. And they are shocked when they don’t. Refuse to let false expectations distract and destroy before you ever get started. Discuss how you did things in your past marriage with your spouse, including what worked and what didn’t? Take time to share what you liked and didn’t like.
Children raised in stepfamilies deal with often changing or undefined tasks that neither parents nor educators know and can define. Different families have a large variety of roles. It’s important to understand that roles can be different at each parent’s house, which can prove difficult for the child.
Consider if a stepfamily comes together during a child’s teen years and he/she is expected to bond with a stranger. This is a time when a teen normally pushes away from family members and toward peers to help establish their identity and autonomy. It can feel unnatural to the teen to suddenly be forced to spend time with the stepfamily when his/her natural inclination is to build relationships with peers.
A stepparent might feel that the child doesn’t like them or doesn’t want to get to know them, when in fact, it has absolutely nothing to do with them at all. Where the natural biological parent has had years of love and bonding with the child and knows the child loves him and will work through these difficult emotion, a stepparent may feel this natural push away from the family as a slap in the face. Since the teen and stepparent have not developed any methods of dealing with conflict, the results can be disastrous.
Parents also have unique needs. They want to be accepted by the family. They have egos too, and want to be loved and supported by the spouses’ parents, children, and extended family and friends too.
Take precautions. Always be aware of the expectation ...
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