How To Make A Blended Family Work When Co-Parenting Is A Struggle

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How To Bring Your Blended Family Together By Learning Positive Parenting Techniques
Family

Being a parent is already tough, but trying to be a good stepparent is a whole different ballgame!

Bringing two different families together to create a blended family can be difficult; you and your partner may have different parenting styles, and co-parenting with exes can also be trying.

This can be especially hard when you're learning to be the best stepmother or stepfather you can be, and finding that your current parenting skills may not be up to the task. But there is a way to bring positive parenting into your blended family and create a healthy and happy unit.

RELATED: 7 Tips To Keep Your Blended Family Strong & Show Your Partner Love

According to Lori Sims, for example, her experience as a new stepparent was incredibly rocky to start.

"In the second year of our blended family, we were ready to give up. It was too much. Nobody was happy! We were all miserable.

The resentment between the stepkids and myself (their stepmom) was really bad. I felt like the stepkids were bullying my son; like they were trying to destroy our marriage.

The in-laws were causing issues, too. We weren't blending in any sense of the word — unless being pulverized is the objective of the "blend."

The funny thing is, we had “prepared” for this. We didn’t have rainbow and unicorn fantasies of what merging two families was going to be like. We'd researched it and even met with a family counselor before getting married.

When things got so bad that I was considering moving out (getting divorced, really), we decided to meet with the same counselor again.

During this meeting, the counselor said something that resonated with me. It caused me to see things in a completely different aspect!

We completely did a 180 with how we were trying to blend, and it was amazing! We did the opposite of what all the research said.

It sounded crazy at first, and it wasn’t easy and took time, but the results are better than we could have hoped for. I even learned to love my stepkids! By fighting our way through, my husband and I have a stronger relationship than we did before."

RELATED: 9 Beautiful Ways To Love Your Step-Children

Some of the things problems that came from trying to parent the stepkids came from common mistakes that many people have in their blended families. Some of these include:

  1. Misplaced expectations: David wanted Lori to step up and take the role of being his four boys’ mother. The boys thought of her as an overbearing drill sergeant when she asked them to shower, eat her cooking, or get out of bed. Lori and David quickly found out that traditional roles often don’t work.
  2. Taking your kids’ side: It’s natural to want to support your children; however, this can be seen as disrespect to your new spouse. It also gives the children more ammunition to drive the parents further apart.
  3. You deal with biological parents and in-laws: Not only might your spouse be taking their kids’ side, but your in-laws and their biological parent probably are, too. Talk about feeling ganged up on!
  4. Coming in second: It’s common for the new spouse to feel as though they are second fiddle to the original parent and to the kids, which can cause a spiral of resentment.
  5. Not liking your stepkids: Kids need time to allow their resentment of the new marriage to settle. Kids have a way of expressing their dislike in very colorful and often unpleasant ways. It’s OK if you don’t fall in love with the kids right away. It takes time to form a bond.

So now that you know some of the common problems that can stop you from having a successfully blended family, how can you keep these things from tearing you apart?

  1. Accept that they're not your kids: Allow the biological parent to parent how they choose. Lori took the approach of being more of a roommate and wholly disengaged from parenting duties of David’s children.
  2. Don’t react to things you cannot change: This helps you have peace of mind.
  3. Re-engage slowly and with humor: Lori said it took her about a year before she began taking a more active part with her stepchildren. Laughing and playing were very instrumental.
  4. Say five positives for every negative: This is like putting more deposits in the love bank. You will need to say "no" and give feedback that children may not like, but when you emphasize more kindness more often, the negatives will be received better.
  5. Give it time: Figure out your role that works within the family and don’t try to rush things.
  6. Adopt the mentality of never giving up: You'll naturally work harder and come up with more creative solutions when you have this attitude.

Lori and David have been together now for nine years. With plenty of parenting advice and learning from mistakes, they were able to come closer together than ever as a blended family.

If you're worried about how to bring your family closer together as a new stepparent, then don't stress yourself out. Take the time to figure out a parenting style that works for you and your kids, and learn to grow . happily together!

RELATED: 9 Ways Couples In The Happiest Second Marriages Make Parenting Blended Families Work

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Midori Verity is the author of 'Secrets to a Kicka** Marriage', host of 'The Kicka** Relationship Show' and the founder of 'Couples & Bubbles Events & Retreats’. For more information, visit her website.

This article was originally published at Midori Verity. Reprinted with permission from the author.

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