Blending Your Family Communication
by Susan G Mathis
The challenges of communicating well in a blended family are many. Past hurts, current perceptions, expectations, and fears or frustrations affect communicating well. The adjustment process is a long and winding road, so providing extra measures of patience and kindness help in communicating with kids and stepkids.
Experts suggest that, in the beginning, it’s best to ease your way into parenting a stepchild. Let the biological parent do the disciplining and encourage the stepparent to be the affirmer, encourager, and builder of the relationship (slowly). When multiple step-siblings are in the home, things can get even more complicated, and it takes special care.
It’s also important to be really cautious about what you say about one another’s children. Affirming your mate as the biological parent is also important because you as a parent often feel vulnerable. In remarriage, there’s more ownership of the biological child’s words and actions, so the biological parent can simply take it more personally.
And in discipline and decision-making regarding the kids, the biological parent should always have the final say. The biological parent may choose to do something differently with her kids than with the stepkids, but she knows her own kids better. So each of you needs to honor the choices your spouse makes and yield to the other.
Resolving stepparent/stepchild conflicts and communication issues is definitely a delicate dance. Knowing your role will help you both avoid and resolve conflict that may come with stepchild relationships. Whether it’s conflict over loyalty, resentment, confusion, time demands, duties, or whatever, knowing how to proceed will help you be successful.
What blended-family issues are you the most concerned about? I’d love to know.
Adapted from The ReMarriage Adventure: Preparing for a Lifetime of Love & Happiness, by Susan and Dale Mathis. Copyright © 2012, all rights reserved. https://www.susangmathis.com/premarital-books/