If your new partner has children, or if you both have children from previous marriages, the practical effects of blending two families may not be the ideal family you once imagined. Conflicts about discipline, money, jealousy and other issues can and do come up. Understand how children can feel in this situation and what you and your partner can do together to make the transition easier.
Children Are Individuals
You might see your partner’s children as part of the package that came with the relationship you and your partner share, but children are individuals. Taking time with each child alone and getting to know the child as an individual will bring respect in return.
Be Aware Of Loyalty
Your stepchildren are very loyal to your partner and probably to your partner’s former spouse. They might even feel disloyal by liking you. Try not to speak negatively about your partner or your partner’s “ex,” even if what you’re saying is true. The children will hold it against you and it will be a barrier to communication.
Establish New Surroundings
Totally new surroundings or rearranging and perhaps painting the old will help establish the blended family as its own unit and start everyone off on an even footing. Be aware, however, that older children may react negatively to this approach.
Settle Differences Privately
If you and your partner have disagreements over how the children should behave, talk them out privately. If the situation seems irresolvable, the two of you might consider talking with a neutral third party such as a family counselor. Many emotional issues can be buried in the discussion of practical matters. Clear communication can head off problems.
Don't Expect Too Much
Try to be realistic in your expectations of the situation. Expect support from your partner, but understand that, to a point, the transition to a new family can be difficult for children. Blending a family is a great balancing act.
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