Your kids don’t like your new partner’s kids; your new partner’s kids don’t seem to respect your authority; and all the stress is starting to make you rethink the whole thing.
Here are some ideas that might help.
1) Take stock
You and your new partner need to share your observations and theories on the situation. Be open to all interpretations of the problem, and be ready to consider all variables. Leave your ego and defensiveness at the door, and be mindful of your sensitivities.
A big part of the problem might be that you’re not willing to see your role in it. This is an opportunity for you and your partner to hone your communication and embrace honesty (and diplomacy.)
2) Find your optimism
Think about what’s going well. Anything that’s working is something you can build on.
Sometimes when we’re anxious about something not working out, we focus only on the negative. Bringing all that negativity into your new relationship will stunt its development.
For example, if your kids don’t like their new step-siblings and they can sense your negativity, it confirms their initial impressions. It confirms their fears that the new family is not to be trusted or liked.
Relationships are works in progress. Even if they’ve gotten off to a rocky start, they can evolve into something completely different through time and effort.
3) Be transparent
Have a family meeting where you bring the problems out in the open and you invite solutions. (This is, of course, dependent upon the age and maturity of the children involved.)
This is where the optimism will come in handy. Express faith that you’re going to find a way through this, and that you care about the feelings and experiences of every family member.
Blending familiesis a big transition, and everyone is entitled to have an emotional response to it. Create space for those feelings, allow each family member to give voice to them, and then move to solutions.
4) Recognize that nothing will change overnight, but it will change
There will be a series of family meetings, conversations, and solutions tried. But by staying in a place of openness and faith and having realistic expectations, by seeing it as a marathon rather than a sprint, you can manifest the (blended) family that you want.
Family issues photo available from Shutterstock