Parenting with your spouse or partner is hard no matter who you are but co-parenting in a blended family has a whole other variety of challenges. And, with nearly half of all marriages ending in divorce, it is becoming a more common relationship issue.
The good news is with the right dedication and support you and your partner can thrive as a blended family.
Being a step-mom or step-dad is difficult. You have to balance the needs of your own children with the needs of your step-children, who might not like you very much at the beginning. Be calm and compassionate and be patient. These things take time.
Make Your Marriage A Priority
Your marriage to your spouse is the foundation of your family. It is the glue and without it, everything crumbles. You might feel torn between giving your biological children all your energy and attention, after all, there is some guilt that follows divorce. You might feel caught between them and your spouse. But, within reason, your marriage needs to be your priority.
Communicate With Your Spouse. This is the number one issue in couples therapy. Share your struggles. Have a plan for how to address family issues. Get on the same page with discipline and house rules. The two of you have a lot going on with your kids and step-kids. You need alone time to stay connected. Schedule date nights with your partner and make sure you are carving out time for intimacy.
Your biological children are going to respond best when discipline and love come from you, at least in the beginning. They are used to you being the one that is “in charge” of them, rather than this new step-parent that is in their life. You and your spouse must establish boundaries so you both know what things are going too far and what is acceptable. These are hard conversations to have but they are necessary. You both need to be there for each other. Provide support. Back up each other’s parenting and be empathetic with each other’s kids without overstepping.
Have A Growth Mindset
Things may be hard now but they won’t be this challenging forever. You and your partner will figure out what works for you as life together unfolds. The kids will also adapt and grow. Try to not get discouraged and keep moving forward as a cohesive family unit. If you feel like your marriage is struggling, get help. Relationship and marriage counseling can be beneficial to get you both on the same page.
You can’t fully care for your marriage or your children without first taking care of yourself. Self-care is so important. Make sure you are doing things that make you feel good—sleep, exercise, hobbies, healthy eating, etc. Encourage your spouse to do the same.
If you are having difficulty with stepparenting and setting boundaries, we are a group of skilled therapists specializing in couples/marriage counseling. Since Covid started we have been working with individuals and couples providing Online Therapy in New York, New York City, Long Island, Scarsdale, East Hampton, Buffalo and Albany. Schedule a complimentary consultation by clicking HERE.