One of the biggest reasons second marriages end in divorce is conflict between step-parents and children from the previous marriage. If you want your blended family to succeed, foster a positive relationship between the kids and the step-parent. Consider implementing the following tips and ideas:

1. Create a culture of respect. The family unit can’t get along as a unit unless the individual members love and respect each other. To foster those feelings, allow the step-parent some one-on-one time with each child, so everyone can get to know each other better. Schedule a half-hour outing for the step-parent and step-child each week (a trip to the ice cream parlor, a shopping spree, or a trip to park).

2. Buckle in for the emotional roller coaster. Children experiencing major life transitions are emotional. Allow the outbursts to occur. Instead of reacting, make eye contact, and listen to the child vent. Even small things like dropped candy bars and routine activities can be frustrating. Learn to listen to the frustrations (and the deeper needs and feelings behind them) without feeling like you need to fix them or alter coping strategies.

3. Get it off your chest – constructively. Parents and step-parents need to vent, too. Find a confidante outside the family (e.g. a therapist or a patient friend) to work through your own feelings about what’s happening. Don’t complain about the ex or your parenting frustrations in front of the children.

4. Participate in activities that unite the family. You don’t want to leave anyone out. Blended families face challenges when parents and their biological children go off together to do their own thing. That can be great for their relationships, but if the step-parent can never be included in your activities together with your children, tension will inevitably follow. Relieve that tension by finding things all of you can do together.

5. If possible, involve the other parent in solutions. Too many times, parents and step-parents speak negatively about the other parent in front of children. That badmouthing will cause unnecessary tension and even lead to charges of parental alienation. If the other parent isn’t meeting your needs, involve him or her in a solution. Empty complaining won’t make your situation better. And, again, keep negative, derisive comments about the other parent to yourself and away from the children.

Ask your family law questions in a private consultation with one of our Minnesota family law attorneys by calling 763-323-6555 today.

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Photo of Jason C. Brown Jason C. Brown

Jason C. Brown has represented a wide variety of family law clients over the last 20 years, including teachers, homemakers, union construction workers, doctors, truck drivers, accountants, business owners, engineers, lawyers, mortgage brokers and Fortune 500 executives. Many of his cases have involved…

Jason C. Brown has represented a wide variety of family law clients over the last 20 years, including teachers, homemakers, union construction workers, doctors, truck drivers, accountants, business owners, engineers, lawyers, mortgage brokers and Fortune 500 executives. Many of his cases have involved complex custody disputes, alimony claims, and high net worth individuals, including several divorces in which the value of the marital estate exceeded ten million dollars. Every client, no matter their background, is important to Jason.

Jason routinely provides mediation services for family court litigants. He was a longtime board member and corporate secretary for Northgate Church in Ramsey. Early in his career, Jason served as law clerk to the Honorable Timothy R. Bloomquist, retired Chief Judge of Minnesota’s Tenth Judicial District.