Step-Parents: 17 Tips to Balance Your Family and Your Relationship

Just as all people are different, these blended kids will be different, too.

Dear Non-Custody Stepparents,

How do you handle the week-ends when all the children are there?

Finding Balance as Non-Custody Parents

If you are both non-custody parents, and each have week-end visitation rights, make certain to plan a few empty times so you can have time for each other on a week-end. Hopefully, one custody parent or the other will be willing to change week-ends occasionally to allow this to happen.

How do you handle the week-ends when all the children are there?

Plan some projects that involve all of you but make certain that each spouse has some time with his/her child(ren) alone.

Encourage your spouse and his/kids to plan something with their own friends or extended family for that time.

Here are more suggestions to handle the above situations:

1. Make certain you and your spouse have ongoing discussions and compromises. Nothing much will happen until you are both involved.

2. All children should be encouraged to express their reservations about the new situation(s). Put yourself in their shoes and empathize with them. Make an effort to talk and behave like everything is the same.

3. Make certain the children do not feel like guests, but members of another caring group when they are at your new home.

4. Make certain your children realize that your new spouse will never take the place of their other parent and that your children will never have to choose between two families. Same for your spouse’s children.

5. Give each child a permanent drawer and spot in the house. If they have to share a bedroom with stepsiblings, see that they have a bunk or trundle bed that is their own. Keep a place at the dinner table for them and make certain they have a place on the family arts and craft wall, family picture wall, etc.

6. Include all kids in the family chores, pow-wows, decisions, and plans.

7. Arrange activities that include your new family and activities that will let you be with your children alone.

8. Encourage all kids to be friends and spend time together. But also encourage your kids to have friends and activities apart. In some cases it is wise to allow a child to bring a friend with them.

9. Start the week-end with an activity that gets everyone involved when you can.

10. Ask your stepkids what problems, if any, your children cause. Listen to their answers with an open mind and try to find solutions to their problems. Do the same with your kids.

11. Express your gratitude to your stepchildren for including your children in their activities and lives. Then do the same with your kids.

12. Don’t expect any kids to take a backseat to your children or let them feel pushed aside in any way.

13. Try to get your children and stepchildren involved in projects, activities, and chores so they will naturally get to know each other. But allow any of the kids to back off when they want to without feeling guilty or pressured to stay in the “group.”

14. Get your new spouse to help with his/her kids and with the blending of the families. After all, you can’t do it all.

15. Try to treat all children the same when they are together.

16. Look for the child who seems unhappy and do what you can to rectify the situation.

17. Give all stepchildren new experiences when you have them. Sometimes non-custody parents have more “energy and funds” for the unusual than custody parents.

Just as all people are different, these blended kids will be different, too.

You can not please all of them all of the time. Just remember to communicate with everyone concerned. As with most of life, talking and listening are still king!

Again, the important thing is to reserve some time for the couple to be together with as few children as possible in tow. Even a sitter and a short night on the town will help.

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