Successful Step-Families (blended families)

Successful Step-Families (blended families)

– can be a time of challenges & a time of good experience
– step-families (blended families)
– children can live with them part-time &/or full-time

– how to strengthen the blended family
1) deal with the child’s conflicting emotions
– concept of multiple families (the original family before the separation)
– the time when with a single parent (who is alone)
– the time with different families (once re-partnered)
a) causes uncertainty & confusion
– conflicting emotions (sadness & loss & fear)/feelings of loyalty in the child
– different expectations across families
A) need to be made to feel safe
– give them time to process
– help them not feel as if they are a “spy/reporter” or a “bargaining chip”
B) discussion needs to be had about
– roles of parent & new partner
– what rules will apply
– expectations of the child/adolescent
– who attends school events & sports events
– who pays for things such as tutoring

– there is no such thing as an ex-mother or ex-father

2) deal with unrealistic expectations
– some parents have insecurity & do not want the child to spend too much time with the step-parent because they are afraid the child might grow to like them more
– as a result they may try & tell the step-parent what to do, rather than working to create a healthy & safe environment that demonstrates cooperation & team-work to the child/adolescent
– some step-parents
– try to win over the child by being a super-parent
– try to become an instant authority figure (firm, structure, discipline, demand instant respect, & obedience)
– such approaches rarely work out well & lead to resentment
[better to try to make the family feel appreciated & important]
– respect takes time
– make people feel safe, protected & appreciated
– such flexibility can lead to the outcomes desired

– involve kids in discussions (adults still make the decisions)
– this demonstrates consideration & healthy problem-solving

3) long-distance parenting
– to go & grow your career
– is casual, spontaneous contact something that you would like?
– discuss the importance of staying in touch
– use technology to stay connected (to make the child feel secure)
– be an adult & talk about our issues, but not to your child/adolescent
– use grandparents & uncles/aunts as a support structure (relatives can be important for children/adolescents to talk to)
[children can feel guilty for lack of contact; children want to find meaning – they look for the “why” there is no connection]

– do not slander the other parent /blended family
– no such thing as a “perfect family”

PsychSessions Podcast, Episode 8 | 26 November 2013


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