Blending a family is hard especially when it comes to overstepping boundaries, but with these 7 ways will help you not overstep your boundaries with stepkids.
Trying to blend two families is hard! There are different parenting styles, different schedules, different rules, and lots of different opinions. With all these differences it can be hard to know where the boundaries should be as a stepparent. Here are seven ways that can help YOU not overstep your boundaries with stepkids.
7 Ways To Not Overstep your Boundaries with Stepkids
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Take a Backseat
When we first get married we all think life is going to be blissful! We will blend our family perfectly and everything will be fantastic! (insert laughing). Let me tell you a little secret, blending a family is no joke! There are so many changes for everyone! You want to start parenting like you always have to your own kids to your stepkids, but it doesn’t work that way. Letting your spouse take the lead to parent their own kids is key to success at first. This allows everyone to adjust to the situation.
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Certainly, this does not mean you should let your stepkids get away with things, it simply means working with your spouse to discipline your stepchild. When Ty and I first got married I went into parenting mode. I saw a problem and I took care of it. This was not the way to go. This caused unnecessary contention between Ty and I and my stepdaughter and I. It took us longer to bond. I wish I would have taken the time to observe and see how my spouse took care of things with my stepdaughter.
This can be a REALLY hard thing to do, but it will help your relationship with your stepkids tremendously.
Build a Bond
It’s important to get to your know stepchildren. Try asking them questions about their hopes and dreams, their likes and dislikes, and everything in between! Not only will this help you get to know them better, but will also help you bond as a family!
One of our favorite ways to build this bond is through family conversation cards!
Another great way to build a bond is to try to do something that interests them. If they like fishing (even if you don’t) take them fishing. Take them out to a concert for their favorite band or to their favorite ice cream place. The possibilities are endless!
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Be patient in building a bond. Building relationships don’t happen overnight. Don’t take it personally if the kids don’t take to you right away. Be patient, keep trying, and never give up.
Have Consistent Rules
It is important to have 1 set of rules. When you are merging two homes it is natural for the rules to be different, but now that you are one home this means 1 set of rules. Sit with your spouse and chat about rules you would like to have in your home. After this, meet with the kids and talk about the rules. See if there are any rules the kids would like to add. Then chat as a blended family what will happen if the rules are broken. Establish consequences.
Acknowledge Children’s Feelings
It is VERY important to validate your kids’ and stepkids’ feelings. Some kids take longer than others to adjust to all the new transitions. Let them have moments. Understand their feelings. Listen to your kids and stepkids. Let them know that the feelings they feel are normal. Help them understand they are not alone. Never give them the impression they cannot talk to you about how they are feeling. Most importantly, let them know that you love them no matter what!
Model Behavior You Want to See
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If you want your new family to get along then it’s important that you model the behavior you want to see in the kids. This means don’t include the kids in adult arguments and don’t talk bad about anyone’s ex’s in front of the kids. This can be REALLY hard sometimes, but it’s important that you show your kids the behavior that you want to see in them.
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Don’t Pressure Your Spouse to Put You First
Don’t pressure your spouse to put you first. I get it! You just got married, you want to be your spouse’s number 1 priority. I was right there with you. This led to so much disappointment on my behalf.
In a blended family, it is not just you and your spouse, it’s the whole family! Never pressure your spouse to always put you first, that is just not fair… That’s the honest truth! Be supportive of your spouse spending time with all the kids.
Put Yourself in Your Child’s Shoes
No matter how long it’s been since you joined your two families together, try to remember to put yourself in your kids AND stepchildren shoes. Trying to imagine what it is like for them. Use this to be more patient and understanding. If you’ve gone through a similar situation when you were a kid try talking to them about it and how you felt. This can help you two bond and understand each other better.
Blending families can be HARD. But they also have so many blessings! Just remember, that you chose to blend your two families for a reason and that it’ll take time for everyone to adjust. Each blended family is different so make sure you figure out what is best for YOUR family. And remember, be patient. Nobody likes change but remembering the end goal of having a happy and successful family can help get you through those hard times.
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Michele is a Family Life Educator. She is a mom to 5 kids and loves helping others strengthen their families! When she is not blogging she is spending time with her family and running around drinking Diet Coke trying to get everything done!