Here are 5 Tips for Success in Your Remarriage with Children:
1. Have an atmosphere of familial inclusiveness “we are one family, we all belong to each other”, we are all important. This attitude must begin with the parents because they set the tone for the family. Even if the kids are resistant and stand offish, keep trying. Include them. In the end, you will most likely win. God adopted us into His family, He is asking us to adopt our stepkids into our hearts. Be as committed to them as you are to your own. My friend, when she got remarried, had a stepson who was very angry about the marriage. He was older so he chose to move out. She went right to work to build a relationship with him because he mattered. He was her husband’s son and she felt God put her in his life for a reason. She would call him, invite him over and ask him to bring his dirty laundry. She would send notes just to let him know she was thinking of him. She included him though she met with a lot of resistance. But she was wise and did not give up though for a long time, she had no reward. It would have been much easier to just let him be. They had other kids to give their attention to but she felt she was to include him so that he would not feel like an outsider. Today, because she was committed to her stepson, they are good friends and have a mutual respect for each other. It is very common in stepfamilies for members to feel like they are on the outside looking in. As the parents, include everyone and you will reap a harvest of joy, unity and peace.
2. Resentment will kill your relationships or prevent you from developing new ones. Resentment means to re-send to your mind over and over again the offense: what they did, what they said, what they didn’t do, and the list could go on. It robs you of peace as you replay the offense over and over again in your mind. This is so easy to do when you are not bonded to your new family members. They may do the same thing your child does, but for some reason, it really bugs you that they are doing it. Or you might resent the fact that their child is living with you and that their child doesn’t appreciate all that you do for them; you resent their lack of appreciation even though your own kids hardly appreciate all that you do. But since you are bonded to your kids, it doesn’t bother you that your own kids don’t show appreciation. You understand them, you see the good in them. Try to do this for your stepkids. If you catch yourself resenting your step member, choose to stop it! It is a choice. Ask yourself if my child did this, how would I feel? Would I be bitter about it? The Bible says: “A wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down” Prov. 14:1. A wise woman or man, does not allow resentment to come in to her home to tear it down.
3. Must forgive yourself, your ex-spouse and any others involved in your divorce and move on so this marriage will not suffer due to the past. If you divorced because your spouse was unfaithful, you may have trust issues. Get healed and forgive so that your past relationship won’t control your new relationship. You can have that bright future, don’t let the past rob you by not forgiving. Forgiving is a big part of moving forward so we will be talking more about this later.
4. Birth parent should do most of the disciplining until the stepparent and child have had time to develop a real relationship. Spouse must come alongside of parent in discipline and support them and their decisions, if the stepparent tries to become the one who does all the disciplining, resentment, anger and division will result. Rules or too much disciplining without having built a relationship with the child will result in rebellion toward the stepparent. And it will cause problems between the spouses. My husband is a firm disciplinarian and when we married, we just assumed that since he is the man of the house, he should be able to discipline my child from the start of the marriage. That was a huge mistake! Rules without relationship – rebellion. If you feel your spouse does not discipline the way you think they should, get counseling together until you can get on the same page.
5. Stepparents who come into the family with the same authority as a teacher or a coach are usually accepted more readily. If you come in with “I’m your new mom” that is very hard for a child to process and all of their defenses will go up. We made that huge mistake by telling my son to call my husband “Papa”. He resented both of us for that and it made the blending process that much harder. He felt like we were trying to replace his dad with his stepdad. That wasn’t our intention. We were pregnant with our baby together and thought it would be great if her older brother called Ron dad so she wouldn’t get confused. What did we know? So we made the process harder for ourselves. We did not have the tools or support to help us through the blending process and so we made some bad mistakes.
Recap: 1) Have an inclusive attitude, make your members feel important just because they belong to your family. 2) Run from resentment, it will take from you more than you want to give. 3) Forgive yourself, God and anyone you feel hurt you or let you down. Forgiving is a gift you give to yourself. 4) The birth parent should do most of the disciplining until the stepparent has a chance to develop a relationship with the child. 5) The stepparents are wise to come into the family with the same authority as a teacher or coach, they are to be respected but they are not trying to take over the role of parent too quickly.