With a greater than 50% divorce rate, the family dynamic in America has shifted from the traditional biological mother, biological father and children to include a wide variety of different types of families. With this shift in family dynamic has come a great need for learning how to accommodate the needs of all involved.
Families come in all shapes and sizes. No two situations are exactly the same.
One thing that rings true is helping stepkids to feel welcome and safe in a new environment can be challenging, but is extremely important to the well-being of the child and the peace and happiness of the family unit. The following are tips for helping your stepkids feel safe in a new blended family.
Be Sensitive To The Children
Stepkids are frequently burdened with traveling back and forth between two households. They are forced to manage their lives in two different homes and different families usually with different sets of rules and expectations. Dissension between parents can be felt by the children and create a very stressful situation for the kids involved.
It’s important families resist the urge to compete or show hostility. When possible, keep communication civil and peaceful avoiding any negative displays in front of the kids. Kids need to feel safe and loved in both homes. If they can feel stress, tension and general unhappiness, they will have a much more difficult time adjusting. Given time, your stepchild will likely be accepting of you – the stepparent but it’s important to give it time.
Allow Your Child A Voice
Stepchildren often feel powerless over much of their lives. Give them a chance to share ideas or concerns they have in their new space. Consider letting them pick the color of paint for their room, choose some unique wall hangings or new bedding that fits their style.
Make the New Place Their Home
Take time to really give them a tour. There’s a very big difference in visiting a home, or staying the periodic weekend and actually accepting it as home. Show your stepkids around.
Make sure they feel completely welcome to a lot of different areas. Sometimes kids feel apprehension in a new place, so it might be good to show them any security measures you have in place and give them a house key.
Teach them how to check door and window locks and arming the security system (if your home has one). NorthStar alarm reviews can help you find a good system if you don’t have one yet. Knowing they are safe and secure often helps stepkids feel welcome and valued.
Keeping one family schedule is hard enough. Stepkids have to keep track of the comings and goings of two families.
They often struggle to keep up with the routines. Help them out by staying organized. Make expectations clear, prioritize events and keep two calendars the kids can easily access and add important dates to.
Initially, limit outside activities when you can as well, to allow your kids to spend time becoming comfortable in their new home.
Have a Packing Routine
Limit packing between the two houses by having duplicates when possible and when it makes sense. For items that do have to be transported between different houses, it is helpful to create a packing list and have a routine.
It can be discouraging to a child to reach a new home only to discover something they need or want is at their other home. If the child has a favorite pillow, blanket or toy, encourage them to take it back and forth between homes as a source of comfort.
Blended families are common and often a beautiful unit of security for kids. Bringing two families together means combining kids, habits, traditions, rules, living space and so much more. While there are many challenges, when done thoughtfully and sensitively, blending families can be enriching and fulfilling for all involved.
Relocating your family once first blended should be avoided if at all possible. Moving and the associated changes: new home and neighborhood, new schools, making new friends, loss of old friends, concerns of the other biological parent, etc. are potential stress producing events for everyone involved especially the children.
The addition of these stressors, plus the stresses associated with blending and adjusting to you the new stepparent can increase the difficulty in blending. With that said sometimes relocating might not be an option when you are offered a job or promotion you just can’t turn down. If you must move consider the tips provided by Shane Ted.