It is no secret that step-parent-child relationships can be difficult. The dynamics of such relationships are often complex, filled with anger, pain, grief and most of all, love. In particular, the weight placed on a child by their stepparent can be overwhelming.
To compound matters further, the circumstances surrounding these relationships can create a domino effect where multiple troubled relationships seem to occur simultaneously. This article digs deep into how you can easily survive marriage with stepchildren.
Can Stepchildren Ruin Marriage?
Yes, stepchildren can ruin your marriage, especially if the couple does not know how to deal with them. Basically, there are two sides to every story. Whether you believe the stepmother’s story or the stepfather’s, there is no doubt that these children will have a tremendous impact on their parents’ lives. They may change your life for the better or for the worse.
As a result of having stepchildren, some parents may feel like they have lost control over their lives. They may feel like they have been dragged down by the added responsibility of providing for another family member and perhaps even losing their identity.
However, the truth is that no one knows what will happen in your marriage if you decide to add a second family unit into your household. It could be great or horrible, depending on how involved you are with this new set of kids who are now part of your life together as husband and wife. Here is how you deal with difficult stepchildren.
Dealing With Difficult Stepchildren
Stepchildren can be a real challenge, especially if they are defiant. They may also be demanding. They will always want everything to work on their best. But you don’t have to put up with this kind of behavior from your stepchild. Here are tips you can use to model difficult stepchildren.
- Start small
Don’t try to solve the entire issue in one conversation or discussion. Take a step at a time and talk about how you both feel. Work together on solving each issue separately, then combine what you’ve learned and move on to the next topic of discussion.
- Be patient and kind with your stepchild
If you’re patient and kind with your stepchild, then the rest will follow naturally from there — especially if you have good communication skills and aren’t constantly yelling at them for things that aren’t wrong!
Remember: Children who feel loved will act differently than those who don’t have anyone available to show them love.
- Don’t argue with them
Arguing with your stepchildren is likely to make things worse, not better, so try not to do it. If you disagree with them and feel you must talk about it, try using an indirect approach such as “I think that you shouldn’t do that” or “I think we should try another way.”
These approaches may seem weak initially, but they’re very effective in diffusing potentially explosive situations.
- Give them space and time alone.
There’s no need to hover over your step kids, especially if they’re older. They may feel like you’re always watching them.
While you should still be supportive and available for discussions, don’t take over their lives. Let them know it’s okay to have fun without worrying about what other people think of them or how their actions impact others.
Empowering your step kids through encouraging words and actions will help them learn how to make good decisions and build confidence in themselves.
- Give your stepchildren responsibility
Giving your stepchildren responsibility will help them learn how to manage their lives without needing your approval all the time. If they haven’t learned this skill by now (and many children don’t), I recommend giving them more responsibility in areas where they seem capable of working independently.
Protecting Marriage in a Stepfamily
Stepfamilies are on the rise, and many couples find that they must protect their marriage while navigating the new situation.
It is common for stepfamilies to experience conflict and confusion as they try to figure out how their relationship works. This can be especially true when children are involved, as they often feel left out of the decision-making process.
Here are some tips that can help you survive marriage with stepchildren:
- Get them involved in your family’s life
This will help them feel connected and loved by your family. It will help them bond with one another, and they will feel welcomed into your family. This will make it easier for both of you to deal with any issues that may arise and keep the peace at home.
- Talk about what matters most to you
Stepchildren can be a source of conflict in any marriage, but they can also serve as a source of support for many couples. Before kids come into the picture, it’s important to have open communication about what matters most to each of you and how that will affect your family dynamic moving forward.
- Talk about your goals and expectations before the marriage begins
Make sure you both know what each other expects from life, career or family goals, etc. Having these expectations in place makes it easier for both partners to communicate about any changes or issues that may arise during the marriage.
- Set ground rules early on in the marriage, so there are no surprises later on down the road
Discuss with your partner what kind of behavior you will accept from them to remain married or stay together for your children’s needs and well-being. This will help prevent arguments from happening between you two over matters such as who does what around the house, who pays bills or buys groceries, etc
- Communicate openly
Stepchildren will probably have questions about their parents’ marriage. It is important to be honest with them about how your marriage is going, what you like about each other, and any problems you’re having. You should also discuss how much time they spend with each parent and what activities are best for them.
In most cases, stepparents and stepchildren struggle to form solid relationships. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t mend these relationships. Instead, it means that both parties should learn how to interact, learn about their differences and similarities, and progress from there. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.