Remember, you are the adult and you are NOT in competition with his children

An adult’s love for another adult is completely different from an adult’s love for a child. You cannot compare the two.

But, when it comes to a blended family – that’s easier said than done.

Here are nine tips on how to integrate stepchildren into your relationship – and make it work for everyone:

  1. Work on becoming friends with the children. They already have parents and you cannot and should not try to replace the parents.
  2. Guard against being critical of your partner. Criticising the way he handles his children will create conflict. Only discipline the children once you have a caring relationship with them. Otherwise leave the discipline to the biological parent.
  3. Refrain from being the ‘wise parent’ who knows everything. Your partner does not want to hear from you how undisciplined his children are. It takes time to build a relationship with children – be patient!
  4. Curb your jealousy when your partner gives attention to his or her children. Be realistic. Their interest in and love for you is separate from their interest in and love for their children.
  5. Don’t be a nag, insecure or moody, especially when the kids are with you. Your partner will find you painful to be with and that can be the beginning of the end of the relationship. Get your mind right: Your partner is a parent and your lover and both play a role in life. Ask yourself how it helps you to see your partner acting as a good parent?
  6. Allow your partner time with his children. They do not see each other on a daily basis (in the case of divorce). Give yourself permission to do something you like to do. Give your partner some time alone with their children. In this way you feel self nurtured and your partner, in turn, will feel like a good parent.
  7. Be grateful for the times you have alone and go into family mode when the children are with you. Both parts can be fulfilling.
  8. Allow your partner to parent their own children in their own way. Parents do the best they can with what knowledge they have. It is easy to stand on the outside and give advice. But advice can sound like criticism and that is toxic for the relationship. Make sure you give advice with care and love and not as a criticism.
  9. Acknowledge that your partner may feel guilty towards their children for many reasons. A divorced parent often feels guilty about being an absent parent. Guilt makes us overcompensate. Your partner is doing their best they can and your support and understanding will go a long way. Overcompensation can spoil children and can cause them to manipulate their parents. It is not the child’s fault and try not to take it out on him/her. Rather try to be more understanding of your partner.

Article by Ilze Alberts, first published on ‘Bella Vida’.

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