Coming into the holiday season has been a focus for several previous posts; however, it can be somewhat different for a stepparent or blended families. While we have discussed some ways to survive the stress of this time of year, understanding how to make your experience better could help a stepparent in a tough situation this season. Colorado residents make up many different kinds of families and it's important to be aware of the unique position of those who enter an already formed family unit via second relationship.
It can be daunting, emotional, disheartening and endlessly difficult to try and win over a family after they already have a routine. For a stepparent who has been dreading the holidays, there are some ways to avoid the toe-stepping-on and achieve perhaps a happier medium. In a study of 200-plus adults who were children of divorce and blended families, several women explained their difficulties with their own stepparents.
One way a stepparent could engage with their stepchildren is to abstain from any parental alienation. Being an example of consideration for the children's other parent and their ongoing role in the kids' lives is one way to show that you are not trying to take their place. Similarly, working to not detract from the original family traditions and activities with their mother or father but rather create new ones can help them to know that they are still a family.
Another point to note is that while you may be struggling to earn their love or they may be reluctant to accept you as someone new in their life, shifting your goal from love to respect could help ease some of your worries. It's very difficult to come in and get affection from someone when they aren't receptive. Understanding the children's perspective and being aware that it may take a while can help you to have new expectations about how they regard you.
Coloradans go through these kinds of situations often, and likely there are a few families who are coming up on some very stressful holiday events right about now. Working with all parties and parents - step or non - can help eliminate unnecessary disputes. Should a new custody arrangement or other family law issue need to be discussed, seeing legal counsel together could help to come up with an agreement all parties involved can be comfortable with.
Source: The Huffington Post, "Becoming a stepmom: 3 strategies for success," Tracy E. Clifford, Dec. 10, 2012