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Children may become clingy to the parent that stayed. They might be under the impression that anything they do or not do might cause the other biological parent also to leave them. If the parent has left due to death, they might become protective or possessive of the one that is alive. There could also be a situation, where they may try to protect themselves from being hurt, by detaching themselves from the blended family.
Many adults in blended families try to bring a balance in their newly formed family with high expectations, and try to liken their new situation to their first marriage. But this is actually far from the truth. When everyone comes together, children will try to figure out where or whether they belong in the new system.
Tips to Ensure Equal Treatment
Here are steps that can help you not let the children of the other partner in the blended family feel that they are left out:
1. Defer decisions for the stepchild to the biological parent
As a step parent, it is important to defer to the biological parent. Give the step-relationship time to develop. Though you cannot completely disappear, you need to also support the step-parent even though it goes against your parenting style. The more it appears to your stepchild that you agree with the bio parent, the better your relationship with the step child will be. As the good cop in a conflicting situation, you need to play the role of finding out the interests of the child, while your spouse (biological-parent) deals with the conflict at hand.
2. Don’t compete with your spouse
No matter what you think of the bio-parent’s style of discipline (or lack thereof) it’s important to respect and acknowledge the strength of the biological connection. Simply be present in the child’s life and avoid “fixing things” or competing with the bio-parent.
3. Discover your stepchild’s interests
Discover the things your stepson or stepdaughter likes. Start off as you would with any friendship: find some common ground and do things together that you might both enjoy.
4. Get out of the way
Let your spouse have one-on-one time with his or her kids—without you. This reduces the displacement and loss the child might be feeling. It also assures him that he hasn’t been displaced by somebody else. Many stepparents get nervous if their spouse is spending time alone with her kids and not including them. This time allows the bio-parent to enjoy their children and let the kids know that the other partner is not taking their parent away from them.
5. Act lovingly, even if you don’t like your step-kids
The fact is that you may not love them as your own—or even like them. And remember, you can’t make your step-kids like you, either! In your step-kids minds, you’ve displaced them. But even if you don’t like them, you can learn to act lovingly toward them. Your loving actions and behaviour will allow you to develop the love you need to blend them in. Kids may not act their normal selves because of the divorce and remarriage, so you need to give the children time to grapple the new situation.
6. Find good and right
Instead of focusing on the negative or complaining about them, find something positive to say to your spouse. This puts your spouse in a positive frame of mind helping you establish a good relationship with your stepchild. This will also help you establish a good relationship between your children and your stepchildren.
Take time to develop the relationship, and we mean not weeks or months, but years. Remember that it takes a lot of time, perseverance, maturity, commitment and patience on the part of all the adults involved to make the kids blend into the family with ease.