Parenting is never an easy job, and this can be especially true when your children and your step-children don’t get along. A blended family presents its own set of challenges and, despite all the love you have, it may be difficult for stepsiblings to get along. However, parents can take certain steps towards finding peace.
Establish Expectations for Your Children and Step-Children
As you’re creating your new family, establish expectations early on for what is appropriate and not appropriate behavior. This can be done by:
- Having a family meeting where all attend.
- Asking each child ahead of time what they expect from the family.
- Facilitate dialogue with everyone in the family and use a dry erase board to post ideas.
- Create a list of norms that everyone can agree on. Sign it and post it prominently.
By involving your step-children in the planning process they will be more engaged and invested in the expectations. This is better than having them feel like they are being given a set of arbitrary rules.
Find Ways for Your Children and Step-Children to Get Know Each Other
Just as you and your partner had opportunities to get to know each other, so should your children and step-children. Consider these ideas for the children to learn more about each other:
- Game night: Play board games or put puzzles together one night a week. Games where they have to work together to solve problems are a good idea.
- Attend an event: Take the kids to an athletic event, concert, or the movies together. Anything that allows them to spend time with each other.
- Outdoor recreation: Play a pickup game of basketball, go for a hike, or visit the beach. Maybe each child has a favorite spot that they like to go to and could share with their step-siblings.
- Cooking: Have them participate in cooking a meal with each other.
Be Patient with Your Children and Step-Children
When the children are having a conflict with one another, remember to be patient with them. Change in general can be difficult for children, let alone step-siblings. Remember that they are trying to figure out this new situation too. Popsugar.com says to let them try to figure it out themselves instead of being the referee. This can help prevent you from getting drawn into the disagreement.
Have a Space for Each of the Children
If they can’t resolve the situation on their own, it might be a good idea for all of the children to have some space from each other to calm down. Bigblendedfamily.com advises parents to have a separate space for each child so that they can have somewhere to be alone. Having their own room is nice, but that may not always be practical. Some ideas include:
- A closet or storage area that can be converted into a personal space.
- The corner of a room that is off limits to everyone else.
- A drawer in a dresser to hold personal items.
- Anything that allows the child to say that this is their space.
Resolve the Conflict Between Your Children and Step-Children
Whatever the disagreement, don’t let it slide under the rug and be forgotten until the next blow-up. Make sure that the conflict is resolved between them. Otherwise, resentment could simmer until there is another disagreement or blow-up which could get worse as time goes on.
Remember the Benefits of Being Together
When the stress level gets to the boiling point, remember the love you have for your partner and his or her children. Remember how both of you want to be together and share life as a family. Also, don’t forget to keep in mind the positive benefits of being a family.
It’s not easy for step-siblings to get along with each other, let alone those who are part of a blended family. However, by finding ways to problem-solve and with patience, parents can take steps to help their children have a healthy relationship with each other.