Any new marriage is challenging. You're bringing together two entire lives and melding them into one. The challenges can be even greater when your new spouse is also now stepparent to your children. In order to help smooth the transition for your blended family, consider how you may be able to help your new spouse and your children engage and bond with one another.
Actively Work to See Their Perspectives
Your perspective on your life, involvement, and relationship with your children has developed over the course of many years. Both you and your children have access to context and memories that your new spouse does not. For this reason alone, your new spouse may not have the same perspective that you do.
Lots of other factors play into this dynamic, of course. Your spouse's own family background, history, personality, opinions, and emotions also factor into how they view the situation. Actively working to see things from your spouse's perspective can go a long way toward discovering how best to help them engage and bond with your children.
Involve Them Fully
If your ex-spouse is still in the picture, the co-parenting dynamic can become extremely complex. Not only must you take into consideration your own will and desires, but you must also consider the perspectives of your children, your ex-spouse, and your new spouse. Everyone must be involved fully in the communication loop--especially your new spouse!
As a family law attorney, what I often see happening, however, is that divorced parents are sometimes slow to integrate their new spouse into the parenting loop. Whether due to inattention, stress, or poor communication skills, they leave their new spouse feeling as if they're not really part of what's going on. This can not only prove incredibly painful but can also lead to dysfunctional family dynamics down the road.
A few ways to involve your new spouse in the co-parenting loop:
- connect with them on matters of discipline
- clearly communicate all decisions made between you and your ex-spouse if/when your new spouse was not present
- provide your new spouse with background information and context for family dynamics
- listen and respond to their questions and concerns
- make their thoughts and feelings a priority
Remember, you're not in this alone. Succeeding as a blended family takes everyone working together. Making sure your new spouse stays in the loop benefits, everyone.
Keep It Real
One of the best ways to help your new spouse engage as a stepparent is simply to help them establish a central role in daily family life. Your new spouse shouldn't be treated as if they are a cool uncle or visiting auntie. Instead, they should be positioned as a complete and full family partner, taking an active role in real life.
Simple, daily rituals in which the whole family is involved can go along way toward promoting family bonding. Things like cooking and cleaning, going on walks together, playing in the park, and setting aside time for a weekly board game night can often do more to help new spouses engage with their stepchildren than anything else.
Yes, there's room for things like family vacations and group projects. Yes, therapy can often help smooth the transition. But nothing beats getting down to the nitty-gritty of living daily life together as a new family.
I Can Help
While practicing family law in the greater Charlotte area over the past ten years, I've gained extensive experience in helping blended families cope. I focus on helping divorced dads fight for their families, and I look forward to fighting for you.
Call today to schedule your consultation.