Step families – Guidelines to Help Your Children Through The Changes
When you separate there is a good chance that at some point in the future, you and your children will become part of a step family. In fact, step families are the fastest growing type of family in the UK. Becoming a step family can be a difficult transition for everyone and it is particularly hard for older children. It’s worth remembering that children have had no choice in the matter – they already have a mum and dad and don’t necessarily want another one.
If both parents have remarried and there are new stepbrothers and stepsisters in both households it can be hard for children to work out who belongs in their family and who doesn’t ; what the house rules and boundaries are; what their relationship is with the other family and finally, what they call everyone! On top of this, it can be very stressful working out how to belong to two different families.
These guidelines for parents should help your children with the transition:
- Talk openly to them about these dilemmas and help them to accept that they can belong to two families. But don’t force the relationship with the new stepparent.
- Avoid competing with the other family and reassure them that they don’t have to choose between parents or families.
- Be supportive of the other family. Most importantly, be supportive of the children’s relationship with both their natural parents.
- When they complain about the other parent, rather than joining in, help them to put their complaint into perspective.
- Children benefit from being with adults whose relationship is happy and working well. Try to balance out your loyalties to your children with the need to maintain a good relationship as a couple.