Stepfamilies need time to adjust to new rules and responsibilities. Do you make lunch for the kids or do they make their own?  Who pays for gas in the car? We have found that when creating the “rules” for our home, having the kids being part of the plan is the way to go!  

Stepfamilies need time to develop. Time and “low heat” are key. Building history takes time. Occasionally, we may feel like we have to rush the process. Unrealistic expectations we put on ourselves, or the unrealistic expectations we let others put on us can be a detriment to the family. Everyone is watching and we can’t make any mistakes. If we feel like things aren’t going very well, we don’t want to admit that we may be failing again. Embarrassment can lead to isolation.

Another way I (Brenda) have tried to affirm my stepkids’ trust is to support them with their mom.  When it was her birthday and they were younger, I would take them out to help purchase a birthday gift for her. Any time I could “come on their turf” to help them, I did.  Once again, I wanted them to know that I am not there to pull them away from their parents. I care about them and want them to know that I am here for them.

One more thought. You can be doing all the right things to build relationship with your kids, bio and step. But if there are destructive conversations aimed at you from the other home, that does not negate the fact of still doing the right thing. These negative comments can undermine what you are doing. If you had to stand before Christ today, would He see your relationship with your kid(s) as supportive, nurturing and pointing the kids to Him? Stay strong and consistent with your kids. It’s a battle for their heart.

Showing the child that you are really trying to understand how they feel and what they are dealing with will bring defenses down. Then think how best to love them, whether they are two years old or 32. Remember, they did not ask for this remarriage and whether you’ve been blending your family for three months or 15 years, adjust and be flexible.  

The legacy of your family and children are worth you responding in love to see life through with Those People to a healthier point of view and quality of life.

Gil and Brenda Stuart live in Brush Prairie, Washington. They have seven children between them, who are all young adults. Gil graduated from Bethany Bible College; he is currently  an insurance broker and active in the community with marriage and family issues. Brenda was on staff as Children’s Pastor of their church and recently established a team building organization helping people communicate better in team environments.  Brenda is also involved with marriage and family initiatives.

Gil and Brenda are Prepare-Enrich certified through Life Innovations. They are founding board members of Thriving Families of Clark County, WA, members of Smart Marriages, Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage Video Presenters, members of Better Marriages, Certified Marriage Team coaches and are sought after for radio and television interviews.

Publication date: March 29, 2013