“Blending a family is hard work,” said Charlotte Shoup Olsen, Kansas State University Research and Extension family systems specialist. Here, she offers some tips to make the stepparenting transition a little easier.
Step-parenting tips for the new blended family
“Blending a family is hard work,” said Charlotte Shoup Olsen, Kansas State University Research and Extension family systems specialist. “Stepfamily relationships can be successful, but should not be entered into lightly,” she said. To help with the transition, she offered these five tips for couples considering remarriage:
- It’s not instant. Allow yourself time to get to know a future spouse and his or her children. As a new stepparent, work on being a friend, rather than trying to replace a child’s mother or father, and don’t push. Allow a friendship to develop gradually.
- Look for natural openings and opportunities that can foster friendship. Offering to pick up a prospective stepchild after ball practice and stopping for ice cream or engaging him or her in conversation rather than listening to the radio, are examples of one- on-one time.
- Discuss discipline before the need arises. “Stepchildren can resent discipline that comes from the stepparent,” Olsen said. “Establishing ground rules is one of the keys in combining households and managing stepfamily relationships successfully.”
- Money matters. Discuss spending habits, child support, income and expenses, assets and debts before remarrying.
- Schedule couple time. “Stepparents can find it difficult to carve out time for themselves as a couple,” said Olsen, who advised couples to schedule time for each other every day, even if it is only a few minutes of quiet time sitting on the porch or deck, or having coffee together after children have gone to bed. “Scheduling a weekly date can be a good idea, too,” she said. “Couples who nurture their relationship strengthen the relationship and the family.”