Step-parenting and blending families is one of the most challenging things many of us will do over the course of our lives. It not for the faint of heart! Below are a few tips from a step-dad who has been through and is still going through it.
1) Make sure you and your spouse-to-be are on the same page when it comes to expectations
It is important that you and your fiancée communicate your concerns and expectations
regarding the parenting of each other’s children. For the most part, my wife and I are on the
same page when it comes to our ideas of how our children should be raised. However, we are
also quite opposite in some areas. I believe having honest and open communication without
the judgement of our partners is vital. Some questions to consider: What type of relationship is
each parent expected to have toward the child(ren)? What are the expectations when it comes
to discipline? What should we expect regarding quality family time? What about quality
husband-wife time? What should we expect regarding the other parent in the child(ren)’s life?
2) Try to establish a relationship with your future step-children.
In my opinion, the healthiest way to approach step-parenting relationships is to first develop a
sort of friendship with the child with the understanding that you are ultimately a person a of
authority in the child’s life. To believe that you are going to automatically have the typical
parent-child bond right away is generally unrealistic. All relationships take time to build. It is
vital that both parents recognize this. The biological parent should try their best to promote a
relationship between their spouse and their child, but it should also be allowed to happen
organically. I have heard before that it takes seven years for a family to become truly
“blended.” Have patience.
3) Never bad-mouth your step-children’s parents (even if they deserve it).
Remember, this is their blood. That relationship means a lot to them, even if they don’t talk
about it much. If their biological mother or father is falling short in some area, I believe it is
okay to sympathize with your step-child, but again do not bash their mother or father. This
could put you in a situation with more drama than you bargained for in the future.
4) Put your marriage first!
Just as in any marriage, the health of the marriage must come before the children. To some,
this may sound sacrilegious. After all, we would die for our innocent children, right? Of course!
The point is, a healthy marriage greatly increases your child’s success spiritually, emotionally,
and even physically. Communicate openly, trust each other’s judgement, allow yourselves to
have disagreements, but in the end realize you are in this together.
Unless there is some sort of extreme abuse, don’t give yourself an out. If you are having
marriage troubles, instead of thinking about an exit strategy, ask yourself, “What can I do that
would help me get where I want to be in this marriage?” And then work together!