Step Family Success – How Can We Get All of Our Kids to Get Along?

Step families are very complex. There are so many different pieces to them because of all the relationships and people involved. If any one of those pieces gets out of place, it can make the whole family feel as if it’s crumbling. One of those pieces is the relationships between your kids and your partner’s kids. Some children will see this as a blessing of more kids to play with. Others may feel resentful and fearful that these other “intruders” may try to take more of your time. Today, let’s look at steps you can take to try to foster positive relationships between them…

Parent your own children – If you want the kids to get along, you and your partner need to. A surefire way of preventing that is if you try to parent your partner’s children. When conflict arises between the kids, as a couple discuss how it’s going to be handled. Your parenting style may be quite a bit different than what your partner’s kids are used to.

Don’t do everything as a family – While it may seem like a good idea to get everyone to “bond” by spending lots of time together, it isn’t. Your kids may feel threatened by these other children being around. Yes, the family needs to spend time together, but don’t neglect time with just you and your children. You probably have little things you guys have always done. Don’t stop those now that you’re remarried. These are the activities that will make life feel safe and stable during the turbulent beginnings of a step family.

Enforce boundaries and space – Make sure all the kids understand basic rules like knocking before entering someone’s room, and asking permission to borrow things. This lets kids know they have their own space to go to when they want to be alone. Even if the house is cramped, make sure that each child has their own space to go to when they get frustrated. This does NOT have to be a bedroom! It can be any room in the house with a door (extra bath, garage, backyard, etc.) That’s their cooling off and relaxing opportunity.

Require respect – While you can’t force the kids to like one another, you can demand that they treat each other with respect. As a family, rules need to be created and enforced that promote this. Some examples are: saying “Please” and “Thank you”, knocking before entering a room, and no name calling. Some pretty stiff consequences need to come down from you and your partner when these aren’t followed. Respect is the seed of friendship. If you hope these kids will get along and like each other, this is where it starts.

Don’t push – Give them time and understand you don’t have much say over how close these kids will get. Real life isn’t the Brady Bunch! You need to understand that it was you and your partner who decided to create this family – not the kids. They may not be real invested in developing close relationships with the other kids. Instead, they may choose to just tolerate one another. If you try to force closeness, everyone will become resentful and you may make the process take longer. Instead, stick with with respect rule and pray for closeness over time!

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