Step-Family Homework

For the discussion of relationship issues between engaged couples.
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Step-Family Homework

Postby Maine-ly » Sun May 18, 2014 4:36 pm

Hello and thank you for taking the time to read this post. I hope a couple of you might have some good suggestions for me. I am in my late-20s and never married. My FH is in his 30s and has two children from a previous marriage that he has split custody of with his ex-wife. I never imagined that I would be marrying a divorcee, much less one with children, but after a time of prayer (and of course getting to know my FH and his children), I know this is the situation God has planned for me. However, I would really like to find some helpful resources before I enter into living with these children (elementary age) and all that goes along with having a step-family household. I will literally go from "fun loving, on my own single" to "step-mom" overnight, and it's a little daunting. While there seems to be many resources out the for the single parents, I can't find many (any?) for the folks who are involved with the single parents. Are there any resources any of you might recommend?

Also, if you are from a similar situation as mine, what is your one biggest piece of advice?

Thank you!

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Re: Step-Family Homework

Postby cbmike » Mon May 19, 2014 9:39 am

I was on the flip-side of this scenario; my father remarried when I was around 4 years old.

My biggest suggestion from a child's perspective is to be your own person, and occupy your own space in the their lives. Don't force them to call you "mom". I always referred to my step-mom by her first name, and overtime it came to signify it's own unique familial role. Don't try to imitate or replace their mother, particularly if her and your FH or on good terms and if the kids still have contact with her. It's easier for a kid to add a place for you than to allow you to usurp that of someone else.

The efforts between parents were hidden from me until I was an adult, but they have since shared some of the rules they made between each other. Major and long term parenting decisions were made by my biological parents; my step-mom generally removed her self from these discussions unless her input was requested. I generally lived under the same rules regardless of who I was currently living with. This caused some mild strife between me and my half-brother at times (such as when he was held to rules that I was not), but the two of us have a very healthy relationship.

It should be noted that my parents remain on relatively good terms, and are both responsible people in general. If this is not the case between your FH and his ex, you may be expected to fill the role of their mother in a stronger way. However I will tell you honestly that unless their mother was outright neglectful or abusive, it is very difficult to do this and have the kids accept it.
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Re: Step-Family Homework

Postby poetess » Mon May 19, 2014 11:13 am

I don't have the same situation in that my husband was widowed, his kids are older, and I too am older and had tons of experience with children (including long-term care situations).

But the most important piece of advice I'd give is an attitude: you see yourself as their parent; you do not "expect" them to see you that way. In other words, in terms of caring for these children, in your mind you are their mom with responsibilities to love and care for them, but you understand and fully accept that they will not "see you" the same way. Over time, they may, but it has to come completely from their direction.

Initially you basically have the same authority in their lives as any non-parent adult. In other words, if you see the kids doing something that you would correct if it were a child at church or a niece and nephew (something dangerous, something blatantly inappropriate), then correct it. But go light on correction, and let your husband deal with most of it. Bring him in as much as possible, talking to him privately and letting him be the one to talk to them. ("Honey, Janet hasn't washed the dishes yet." "Darling, it seems to me that Dave is being unkind to Louis because he's jealous that he thinks Louis gets more of your attention.") Over time the need for this should lessen, but for everyone's sake it's a good way to transition into new roles and new places in the family. Also, encourage the relationship between your husband and your children. They'll still enjoy having one-on-one daddy time, and it won't hurt for you to be the one to suggest it sometimes. His relationship with you should come before his relationship with the children, but they knew him first, and you cannot be jealous of them. You may have to back off and force yourself not to be jealous of them at times, but you have to be "the adult" even if you don't feel like it.
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Re: Step-Family Homework

Postby girliegirl511 » Wed May 21, 2014 9:07 pm

My DH is 45, widower and has 2 teenage sons. I'm 23, never been married but love kids(TTC right now). I get along great with my step-sons, we were friends before their dad and I staarted dating. Yes it was awkward at first because of all of our ages, but they got used to it. I've never tried to replace their mom. At 14 & 16, you really can't replace their mom, and it's something I never wanted to do. Like this Mother's Day, yes it was my birthday but I asked DH to spend time with his boys. I didn't want them to give me anything because I'm not their mom and will never be their mom. So they went to lunch, and did stuff. Later that night we all celebrated my birthday. I think the boys were appreciatve that I respected their mom. Respect the relationship with kids and the father. That relationship will have gotten stronger, and boys need their dad. My DH takes time out every week to spend individual time with each son. Yes it cuts into "our time" at night, but I know it's worth it when DH comes to bed smiling. Those boys mean everything to him and I wouldn't want to break that father/son bond.

Apparently, I have a "look" I give when a child does something works really well! If they blatantly say something bad or misbehave they get a look. I think because they are teenagers it's a bit easier since they actually know the boundaries. However, there have been those times when they did something wrong and I feel like I can't correct them. I talk to their father and then he corrects them. This was an issue that we discussed and prayed about long before we were married. DH job is to do the major correcting, attitude adjustment, and disciplining. I usually handle "normal" day to day issues, i.e. "did you clean your room?" "you didn't take out the trash", "Alright time to stop vieo games and finish homework".

All that said, we do have some great bonding time by teasing my DH. I usually go along with their pranks as long as it's not harmful or outright mean. Hubby gets a good laugh. Learn their likes and dislikes. One son likes to sit and watchsports, the other likes to go places. So, I make it a point to watch football, golf and ask how basketball works(I married into a basketball family, and I'm a football girl). The other I take to the Apple store or Dick's Sporting Goods. Learn to communicate with them and often, even if it means sending a funny text during the day. Take time to do one on one things with them, even if they don't realize it. Take them for breakfast before school, go get a milkshake after, run errands with you(limit how many stores of course) ect...

It's a learning process but one I love. Those boy, rather young men have won my heart and I love them. They might not know just how much, but I do. And all I want is for them to see me as a best who loves them, nurtures them, scolds them when needed, and show them the love of Christ.

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