Blending a family together comes with its own unique challenges and obstacles. Approximately 30 million children in the U.S. younger than 13 live with an adult who is not a biological parent.
While children thrive on structure and need boundaries to feel secure, they will naturally try to push the limits. A child whose family dynamic has been restructured senses the upheaval and might act out. However, step-parents can take actionable steps to effectively help the family, steering children in the right direction.
Watch Your Boundaries
Parents normally feel intense guilt after putting their child through a divorce. Since single parenting is difficult, you might feel inclined to give in to your kids rather than enforce discipline. While bringing a step-parent into the picture can be a difficult transition, it also provides a chance to assess your current parenting tactics.
Step-parents can see bad behavior with fresh eyes and are usually less tolerant of it. They can then address the issue with the primary parent, who should discipline their own child first before the step-parent becomes involved. Do not try too hard to be the cool step-parent or force an instant bond. Creating feelings of love and trust takes time. Be realistic and show unconditional love to develop the close relationship that you desire.
Expect a Transition Period
Children will need to adapt to a changing family dynamic, which can be admittedly difficult. Everyone needs adequate time to adjust to their new surroundings and people. Rebellion, such as talking back, name calling and similar rude behavior, is to be expected.
In some cases, teens might even engage in dangerous or illegal actions. Instead of focusing on rebellious behavior, give the children options, which helps them feel as if they have a sense of control. and make them feel like a valuable member of the household. Just because your child is trying to engage you in a fight or disagreement doesn’t mean that you have to argue with them. Remember, you don’t have to attend every fight to which you are invited.
Learn to Set Boundaries Effectively
The following guidelines can help with effective boundary setting:
- Stay on the same page as your spouse when it comes to household rules.
- Establish clear expectations and consequences and do not deviate.
- Teach kids acceptable behaviors and self-control through discipline.
- Hold family meetings so that everyone in the household should be able to share their feelings and concerns with each other. This provides a safe way to bring everyone together to discuss any issues before they spiral out of control.
Remember not to take things personally. When parents divorce, many children fantasize about reconciliation. When a step-parent enters the picture, it puts an end to that dream. Kids need time to mourn their loss and accept their new reality. Consider seeking help from a professional who can assist you through this time of transition.