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Parenting Step Children

Millions of families merge together each year, creating a blended family. Parenting step kids can be challenging for the best of parents. The good news is that there are things you can do in order to help address the situation for you and your kids.

Blended Families

Young teens are usually fighting to gain their independence. When step siblings, join the family, they may feel threatened by the blended family. Teens may also not be comfortable with the dynamics that come with some of the changes, such as having to share things, including their home or room, and tehy may even feel left out or resentful and begin behaving poorly. But it doesn't have to be that way!

Tips for parenting step kids:

  • Give your tween or teen plenty of warning about the changes that are going to take place in their lives and what it means for them and the blended family. Acknowledge her feelings about the issue and try to focus on the benefits of having a step sibling.
  • Be sure to listen to and address your child's fears and concerns about having a step sibling. It is normal for her to have concerns and be leery of changes.
  • Find common ground between your child and her step sibling(s). If you can find things everyone enjoys, you can focus on getting them involved in doing those things togethe, so they may start to form a bond.
  • Avoid making comparisons. This will only cause resentment and lead to sibling rivalry. Instead, acknowledge that everyone has his or her own particular strengths, and differences are what helps to make for an interesting family.
  • Give step siblings time and space. There may be difficulties at first, but rather than push the issue, just encourage and back off some. They will likely become friends faster if they are not being pushed to do so.
  • Try to avoid labeling kids as "step" children in the home. This label seem a bit derogatory and make someone feel like an outsider. Instead, come up with a positive word to describe the dynamic.
  • Be sure to still spend plenty of quality time alone with your biological children. If they feel that they can only be around you whenever the step siblings are around, they may become resentful. There still needs to be quality one-on-one time dedicated to them.
  • Try using behavior charts in order to focus on positive reinforcement to keep peace and order in the house. Keep all siblings on track with chores, behavior, etc., and let everyone will know what is expected of them.
  • Seek the advice of a professional if things really don't seem to be working out.

Gaining a step sibling can be a temporary source of stress as things change. But it can also be a welcome change that provides your young teen with a new lifelong friend. By focusing on being positive and providing encouragement, as well as having patience, you will be setting the stage to do just that!