When two people with children from a former marriage start a new family, serious changes happen in the lives of everyone. There is often tension between the family members.
How do (did/would/should) you handle it?
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I can give you half a reply... December 19, 2004 4:10 PM
when Mr. T. and I married just over two years ago, Mr. T. became an instant parent at the age of 45. Although Mr. T. had been married previously, he hadn't had children. Suddenly, upon marrying me, he "inherited" a 19-year-old son and a 22-year-old daughter.
This is probably not as "tricky" as mixing two separate sets of children, nor as difficult as introducing a new parental figure to much younger children (who may "resent" a new "Daddy").
I can tell you that Mr. T. was reticent, at first, to act in an authoritative way, make suggestions or give advice, or hand out any punishments. Although I encouraged him to speak frankly to my children, and for him to vocalize his expectations, I believe he was quite leary to "cross the imaginary line", and be faced with a shouted retort of "YOU'RE NOT MY FATHER!" A slow and mildly tentative approach seemed to be the best method of proceeding, combined with constant "checking" with me and (occasionally) with my ex-husband. "Parent Pow-wows" were also helpful, especially concerning matters of a more serious nature (schooling, discipline, etc.).
Fortunately, my kids were mature enough, and comfortable enough with Mr. T. that they befriended him easily, grew to respect him naturally, and then bestowed upon him (with sincere and heartfelt Father's Day wishes and presents) the honourary title of "parent". I find that the kids have worked out an apparently simple system of benefitting from multiple-parenting - they ask each of us advice about different topics, reveal certain things to one or the other, enjoy different activities with different ones of us, and yet they are still able to enjoy "family times" that involve all three of their "parents".
I suppose I could only give you a "full reply" had Mr. T. also had children who may have entered the picture. All I can tell you is that now there are three of us "adults" who have two children, and all of us are looking forward to grandparenthood too!
Well I would say, that maybe it would depend on the ages of the children involved. If young they may flat refuse to accept a new person as "parent" for awhile. In that case, it is their mother/father who needs to explain to them, that while they don't see you as a parent right now, but that they must atleast treat you with respect. If older, then they should understand the whole concept. But the word that keeps coming to mind is respect. Went thru this with my step-son, for a couple of years, until I finally told him, his Mom will always be his mom, but in this house I'm the Mom and as such he will respect that. We really haven't had a problem since then.
Also you might want to ask your spouse the what if's....like if you correct her child, what would she/he think. Sometimes its hard for the one parent to let the new parent correct/dicipline a child. And let that child see one time where the natural parent steps in during that time and its all over for the new parent. Guess bottom line is, it's a give and take on all parties involved.
Been there, done that... it is so, so hard sometimes. Persistence and patience are the two things you will need the most. Those and a whole lot more but those two you will need in OVER abundance. Most of all, just be yourself.
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I am not an authority on blended families, although I have seen my share. I recently read "Divorce and New Beginnings" by Genevieve Clapp, which said the step-parent should be the peace keeper. This is an interesting angle. Not to necessarily discipline, although they could remind the kids of the house rules. The concept was that the kids already have a dad and a mum (of course there are variations-like absent biological parent, and age of the kids) and the new step-parent should become another adult in the house upon whom they can depend. (Eliminates the 'you are not my dad/mum crisis) Time also changes this a bit...the ease into it plan utilized by the aforementioned Mr. T... comes to mind.
But it is something that has come to mind recently, and will no doubt happen one day
it has come into my new boyfriends mind too, we have talked about it briefly,
we are taking things very slowly and any move together would not be for at least a year from now, for now, we are making sure we are ready for each other before we work out if my son and he are ready to be in each others lives too.
I guess I am worried about it in some ways, really how will it all work, the complication and brilliance too of little one having a dad and a stepdad, I guess its due to the fact I know my little ones dad will find it difficult and may make things difficult, however calm and reasonable he is being right now, well he doesn't know the relationship I am in is becoming quite serious, when he does that will quite probably present his fears of being shut out (not my intention for the future at all) as daddy and being replaced.
I may be wrong, he may be very happy for us all, thats my main worry though, not how my new partner would manage in adapting to having a little one around, or how my little one will adapt to having a lovely man around to give him extra love and attention and make mummy very happy too.
But I am not there yet so its all guess work.
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My boyfriend has a 17 yr old boy and a 19 yr old daughter. The daughter and I have really bonded. With the son it is much more difficult. The son has bonded with his mom's boyfriend. He works for him and travels with them. He does not like his dad having a girlfriend, so there is some strain there. I didn't want to force myself on him, so I kind of kept a distance. I gave him time alone with his dad. Now I am finding out that this has been perceived as me not caring or trying. That wasn't the case at all.
This kid is really spoiled rotten and I think that he is manipulating his father to try to get what he wants. I feel really bad because it seems like whatever I do, it is wrong. I am have not been invited to do anything with him for over a month. I don't think that this is going to help the situation. I do stuff with his daughter almost daily.
I know that my boyfriend hurts because his son has more in common with his mom's boyfriend than him. I can definitely understand why that would hurt. But I do know that his son loves him.
As for the parenting part. Since the kids don't live with him, I stay out of it. I see a huge problem with couples when the non-parent tries to get involved with decision making or discipline. If his son were to openly disrespect me, I would let his dad handle it. I do not comment on his dad's choices for his kids. God I would love to! He has them so spoiled, I think they will be dependent upon him forever. But that is my opinion.
I think it is much harder for couples that both have children. Trying to blend two families together would be rough, especially when dealing with teenagers!
I'm happy to see this thread! I'm in a blended marriage. I'm so NOT a mother type, I'm always confused as to how to handle it all. My husband comes with 4 kinds. Two are on their own and one lives with us, the other with his mom. I have no idea how to be a step mom. Advice is welcomed!
Coming from the childs side, don't try to hard to be a mother but don't avoid trying to be a mother figure, if that makes any sense. Most kids don't like the step figures, the Cinderella story, but some will do everything to try and use the whole "she/he is replacing or trying to take over the other parent figure"
When I became a step-mother I was stepping into a volatile situation. The girls Mother was missing. Her bio-parents had been divorced for sometime. The 10 year old girl was extremely angry at the world, and had little to practically no discipline. She resented me taking the place of her Mother. Her Mother had dropped her off at Grandmas and then dissapeared. Grandma called my husband, the childs bio father and told him to come and get the child. The child destroyed many of my personal belongings. I got her into therapy for a while, which only seemed to make matters worse. So I tried church. This worked better than anything. I think because she wasn't being analyzed about things she couldn't understand. She had her peers in school and church. We did a lot of things together. BTW, Dad was absolutely no help, not the parenting type. The outcome of the missing bio Mother was the worst you can imagine. This child, now 26, has definate phsychological problems but she has a good head on her shoulders just the same. It took about 1 1/2 years for the two of us to bond and become close. From the ages of 12 to 16 she was a wildcat. I had to be on my toes every minute. But I had invested in this young ladies life and was determined that she would turn out to be someone she could be proud of. I had to "out think" her several times to keep her from the wolves. We are very close now, we talk nearly every day. She has confided in me that she is thankful the Lord put me in her life when He did. As I am thankful the Lord gave her to me to protect and love..........Such a strong minded and stubborn individual, I couldn't have hoped for more in my own bio daughter.......
I wish I could answer the question started a few years back! I am still trying to figure it out after 2 years with a man having 4 young children. We seem to be in disagreement more than not with his kids and how the ex takes advantage of the situation. I could go on and on with all the cons as there seem to be more cons than pros when dealing with a man with kids and his EX (another story in itself).
I have 3 of my own and know both sides. But in his case he spends every chance he can with them, which is to be comended. He gets them every weekend usually friday night through Sunday evenings and every summer m-f and in the past 2 years he has had them on most weekends as well in the summer. So much for time out with me alone! This is a VERY difficult relationship and I would not invested so much time in it - if it was not for the fact that I care alot about him and his kids.
I feel negelected most of the time as the girlfriend as you can imagine financially he never has extra money to go anywhere (trying to provide for the 4) with me and my days off (weekends) he has his kids. so either spend all the time at home with the kids or go everywhere with him and the kids - which don't happen much either as then we have to take 2 vehicles everywhere we go. I am SO stressed out and in aww and don't know what to do anymore. Right now he has not worked at a stable job for about 5 months and whether he wants to admit it, I have been his backbone and main support through it. we do not live together, but he spends everynight with me as his place has not had water service in months. He has it made with me and I have not really minded too much helping, but it gets to the point when you say enough is enough What About ME! with out sounding selfish. I fell very unappreciated most of the time. I am not materialistic, but I have just felt like lately I would like someone to pamper and take care of me for a change. My past relationship with my kids dad of 10 years was very bad and he was verbally abusive, did not keep a steady job, I pulled most of the weight financially and still from this day 8 years later, he has not been the ultimate dad or provider for the kids. The next few relationships after that was more of the same, in the way that these men did not have ther stuff together and always seemed to be struggling. So more of the same, never went out much because too broke or they were not the committed type, would like to prowl if you know what i mean.
So when I met my current boyfriend I was so releaved to meet a REAL man, one that was nice, wanted to be with me all the time, calls me all the time, faithful, takes care of his kids the best he can and spends time with them. The only problem is ME - I don't seem to fit very well. I try to look at all the positive things about him to tell myself it is all worth it, but it is still very hard when he don't make me feel any more special than the next.