The chances of divorce spike in marriages where step-kids are involved, according to a recent article. While more than two-thirds of first marriages in the U.S. end in divorce, the success rates of second and third marriages steadily decline from there. Remarriages have extra challenges. A second marriage can be more complicated if there are children from a previous marriage involved, and if there are ex-spouses who are obstructing a smooth transition.
More than three-quarters of couples enter into blended families without seeking relationship help or education on the complexities of the new–often challenging–familial dynamic. More than half of couples fail to even read a book on remarriage or step-parenting when they get married anew.
We’ve provided a few strategies to help establish a successful stepparent relationship from the onset:
- Understand your role. As a new stepparent, your main job is to build trust with your stepchild and provide support. Take back seat to disciplining–at least at the start. Leave it to the biological parent. Adjusting to a new stepparent is often a rocky road for stepchildren, so it’s important to avoid injecting additional conflict whenever possible.
- Don’t criticize your spouse’s methods of discipline–especially in front of their children. Biological parents are frequently more rigid surrounding how they discipline for their biological children, and this can be a stressor in a relationship. It’s important to discuss disciplinary methods together and be on same page. Giving children too much power could sabotage a second marriage.
- Don’t try too hard. Don’t push for a tight relationship with your step-kids right away. Don’t try to get them to call you mom or dad or insist on spending one-on-one time together. Let the relationship develop organically.
In all aspects of new blended family relationships, it is key that you and your partner worth with–rather than against–each other in fostering a healthy coexistence.