our everyday life

Rules for Combining Two Families

by Candice Coleman

When two families come together, you may be gaining stepchildren along with a new husband. Though this may be a joyous experience, learning to get along and live under one roof can also be a problematic adventure. Taking the process slowly and listening to each member of the new family along the way can solidify the new family and cool tempers.

Combining the Household

Stepchildren likely need time to recover from a parent's divorce, and to accept that their parents will never get back together, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dating for a while and slowly increasing your exposure to the children will make it easier for your stepchildren to accept you, according to KidsHealth. Hold family meetings before moving in and address any concerns, like the household rules, the discipline for breaking rules, and the living arrangements for the children. These conversations may ease tension and reassure children who are concerned about the change, according to KidsHealth.

Handling Discipline and Arguments

During the first few months of living together, stepparents should let a spouse handle the discipline of his children, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Otherwise, stepchildren may become resentful and angry toward a stepparent. As time passes, a parent can slowly shift discipline so that both adults in the household are responsible for the discipline of the children. Keeping consistent rules can discourage any concern of favoritism, according to PBS Kids. If a stepchild insults you, do not feed the fire. Respond with, "I wish you didn't feel that way about me, but with time, I think we will learn more about one another and feel differently."

Helping the Family Get Along

Invest time and energy into your new family. This may mean learning about each stepchild's hobbies, or supervising family outings to amusement parks or arcades. Any opportunity that will help you or your children get to know your spouse and her children can strengthen the family's relationships, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Knowing how to bond may also mean knowing when to give family members distance. Some stepchildren will never get along, and some stepparents will never be close with their stepchildren. Encouraging everyone to be civil for a start, rather than friends, may work for the best.

Maintaining the Peace of a Household

Regular family meetings in which children and parents can share their frustrations and hopes for the family may also be beneficial. Encourage family members to speak calmly and avoid blaming anyone. Writing anonymous thoughts and concerns to put into a box may help children air their thoughts or concerns without judgment. Showing each child that she is a valued member of the family can go a long way in fostering positive relations in a blended family, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

About the Author

Candice Coleman worked in the public school system as a middle school and high school substitute teacher. In addition to teaching, she is also a tutor for high school and college students.

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