Divorces can result from many kinds of conflicts, including challenges that arise between a stepparent and stepchildren in blended families.
Although every situation is different, there are some common problems that occur in these types of relationships, and understanding these problems can help stepparents modify their behavior, and create a more positive environment.
Child Feels Stepparent Treats Biological Children Differently
In situations in which you have your own biological children, one of the most common challenges you may have is trying to make sure that you give your stepchild the same care, attention and discipline that you give to your biological child.
Stepchildren may perceive that you favor your own child, which can create conflict in a household, and lead to problems with your spouse and other family members.
Try to create the same rules for all your children, and make sure that the consequences for breaking house rules are the same. Also, be aware of the time and attention you are giving to all of the children in your blended family, keeping in mind that each child is special and deserves fair and equal time.
Stepparent Feels Stepchild Doesn’t Show Any Respect
In some instances, you may feel that your stepchild doesn’t respect your authority because you are not their biological parent. This can create resentment and hostility if the situation is not dealt with in a loving and age-appropriate manner.
You can help diffuse this tension by sitting down with your stepchild or stepchildren, and explain that you have no intention of trying to replace their biological parent, and that you simply want to be there for them as much as possible.
Communicating in a way that acknowledges their fears about your role in their life can go a long way toward creating a more harmonious relationship.
Stepparent Bad Mouths Biological Parent
As a stepparent, you should never make any disparaging comments to your stepchild about the biological parent who is not in your household. Making negative comments or opinions about their biological parent will most definitely cause your stepchild to experience feelings of confusion, anxiety, resentment, and a host of other residual negative emotions. No matter how mature you think your stepchild is, exposing them to the problems you have with their biological parent will create these negative emotions. Your stepchild may believe you are trying to undermine the relationship with their biological parent, when that may have not been your intention at all. In any case, making negative or disparaging comments about the biological parent, does not produce positive results.
If you have any issues with your stepchild’s biological parent, arrange for a time when you and your spouse can meet with that person and air out your differences.
If your stepchild is the one who is disparaging their biological parent, it is your responsibility as an adult to speak to your spouse, and address your stepchild’s concerns with the biological parent.
Helping Families Through Difficult Times
All the suggestions for establishing a strong relationship with your stepchildren are still valid if you are faced with a divorce with their biological parent. In fact, if you hope to maintain a bond with your former stepchildren, these tips can help set the stage for the future.
The Law Office of Eric C. Cheshire has handled difficult family law situations for more than 25 years. Please call us at 651-655-8844 if you need to discuss a family legal situation. We are always here to lend our expertise in this area in any way we can.