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Family Counseling: Stepparenting
Family Counseling: Stepparenting and Blended Families
If you are a step parent you have probably already began to confront some of the unique challenges that come with being in a blended family. Stepparenting is an experience that you might find rewarding and exciting, but it can also be hard. How do you know the correct way to stepparent? How can you make a connection with your stepchildren? You might not know where to begin, especially if you are a new stepparent. (Related Article: Family Counseling- A Family Affair).
Today, you will learn more about how you can improve your relationship with your step children, and how family therapy can help.
Your relationship with your stepchildren is a unique opportunity for mentoring, love, and support. But knowing where to begin is overwhelming, especially if you are splitting parenting time with another parent. An important first step to a positive stepchild relationship is to acknowledge and embrace that loving your spouse will also involve loving their children, too.
How do you show your step children love? A great first step is to invest the time to get to know them. Just like you dated your spouse and built a relationship from the ground up, you will also have the unique opportunity to do the same with your stepchildren. If you invest the time to get to know your stepchildren, you will send a clear message to both the stepchildren and your partner that you take your responsibilities as a step parent seriously, and that you are committed to your new family unit. It’s also important to remember that building that relationship may take time. (Related Article: Counseling- About Marriage and Family Therapy). It may not be easy for your stepchildren to feel comfortable building a relationship with you right away. Patience and compassion for your stepkids will go a long way.
Establishing New Family Expectations
This part will be especially important if you are sharing parenting responsibilities with your spouse’s ex. A great way to reduce frustrations, disappointments, and miscommunications in your new family will be to set reasonable expectations from the beginning. Don’t be afraid to hold family meetings with your new stepchildren and your spouse. Use these meetings to make plans, coordinate your schedules between their two homes, set goals together, and establish consistency. (Related Article: Family Counseling- What to Expect). Your stepchildren will need time to adjust to their new normal.
Creating a sense of stability right away can help create the positive home environment you want when it comes to stepparenting. Additionally, involving the kids in planning and coordinating can build trust, and show that they are also a part of your new family. This is especially helpful if your stepchildren are older. (Related Article: Family Counseling- Adolescents and Blended Families). You can give them a chance to participate in the family and communicate that their voice is important to you as one of their parenting figures. (Related Article- Blending Your Family: Stepparenting by Choice).
An Opportunity for Family Growth
Stepparenting and blending your families may be a unique challenge. However, it doesn’t have to be harmful or traumatic. Making the effort to stepparent with intention and compassion will help you build the chosen family you want. (Related Article: Family Counseling- How Parents are Involved).
Family counseling is another great tool that you can use to navigate this challenging phase for your family. And family therapists understand the things you are experiencing, and how much you want a positive, happy home environment. They can help you, your spouse, and your children and stepchildren to create the relationship you are looking for. If you are ready to take the first step, schedule family counseling today in Orem, South Jordan, or Spanish Fork.
Written by Lauren Adkins