After eight years of being the "Brady Bunch" family, I can say that I have finally mastered the art of mothering my children vs. the stepchildren. Now when I say verses, in the beginning that is what it felt like. My children were trying to compete with his children for attention, love, equality and finding their place! In 1999 the family dynamics began with, two 9 year olds (my son, his daughter,) two 6 year olds (my son, his son,) and two 3 year olds (my son, his son.)
I started out being his kids "friend". I wanted them to like me and not consider me the mean step mom. My kids immediately got jealous and thought that I was being nicer to his kids because I did not discipline his children the same as I would my own.
The other issue that was a huge problem was the "ex". This was not a good situation, which only put further strain on my relationship with his children, especially his daughter. It didn't matter that I was nice to them, the fact that me and their mother did not get along set the tone for the relationship. For several years, I wasn't sure how we were going to make it.
After years of practice and doing the wrong things, here is my list of practical rules for newly integrated families:
1. Treat each other with respect.
2. Always back each other up on decisions.
3. Be fair and consistent with your discipline.
4. Do NOT show favoritism (this is a hard one but do your best, it pays off!)
5. Everyone does chores equally (this creates a REAL family environment.)
6. Make peace with the "ex" (hard, but necessary to save your family.)
7. When arguments occur, both parties involved get the same punishment,
(this discourages further conflicts and favoritism claims.)
8. Always take family vacations together (thus creating a family togetherness
9. Attend all sports, banquets, and special events for ALL the children (they
will know you care.)
10. Do not give up (if or should I say when you fall, start back at rule number 1 and repeat the steps as needed until you have perfected them).
Good luck, and may I remind you, it only took me seven years to have a wonderful relationship with my step children as well as their mother. My sincerest hope is that these steps will take off a couple of years of struggle in your quest to integrate stepchildren into your family.
I'm glad you were able to make it! I know the failure of my family was probably because of everyone's ages...my mom remarried when I was 15, my sister 16, and we moved in her new husband and his two boys ages 14 and 17. My sister and I were always intellectual types and excelled in school, my stepbrothers preferred to party and it didn't help that their school vacations differed from ours so we had them making all sorts of noise when we had to be up at 5:00 a.m. My older stepbrother and I moved out at about the same time...six months after the joining of the families. My sister waited until she got out of high school so made it almost two years, pretty close to the same amount of time my younger stepbrother was able to put up with it. Now I'm not even sure if those stepbrothers would say hello if we passed each other on the street, but maybe things would have been different if the whole thing had been tried several years earlier.
Thanks for your comment...it is always hard but I think you're right the fact that the kids were younger helped. That's too bad that it didn't work out for your family and you had to move out so young. It must have been hard on you, but it sounds like your doing good now!
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