7 June 2014
Today I found a very interesting website that offers help and advice for stepfamilies. Click here to visit.
Today, I was looking at a few websites on step-families and I learnt a lot of interesting facts. First, a fact, stepfamilies are the fastest growing family type in the UK. Over one third of us are part of the stepfamily experience.
Some of the following tips are spot on and could save you grief and worry.
Don't force the pace! It takes time for stepfamilies to feel comfortable together. Thinking about this first tip and reading other stories, I believe that this is the most difficult thing to do. You cannot just assume everything is going to click in place easily! It does not! In fact it is the contrary.
Let the birth parent and their child have some time together. I would say this is so important. Even if your child has lots of friends round does not seem to want to spend time with you, make it a priority.
Make it safe for the children to talk about their feelings and grieve their losses. Failure to grieve can result in anger and alienation. In our case, as I was a single mother before, they missed my undivided attention.
Non-resident children need to feel part of the family, not just 'visitors'. Have their school photo, trophies and artistic works on show. Also display photos of your family activities so you can start to build new memories. Involve them in family chores. Giving a choice of job helps them to co-operate.
Remember all teenagers need their own space, friends and activities. They may want to invite a friend when they come to stay.
New relationships create very different power distributions in families. Children, for example, who perhaps had some role in the single-parent family, now find themselves on the periphery of the new family. Power struggles are common in stepfamilies, making new relationships even more difficult to develop.
You may wonder why I have goandt a special interest in step-families. After my parents divorced, my dad remarried and I have one half-brother and two half-sisters. They live in the States in Missouri and we made contact through Facebook (a good point for Facebook!) about two years ago. My half-sister Victoria came to visit us and we had this special time together. The following year, my daughter went to Joplin to Jacquie's wedding.
When I married Steven, I became a step-mum to his daughter Verity and Steven became a step-dad to my two daughters. I must confess that we wished we'd known some of those above tips! Needless to say that maintaining a strong commitment to God and to one another is vital. This commitment is critical to weather the storms of the first few years. We praise the Lord who has looked after us and is still looking after us.
Any ideas, 'tips' or your own story are very welcome and encouraging.
May the Lord bless you and your family. Your sister in Christ. N.