Lessons 1-7 are in the the post below, Blended Families–Part III.
8. Avoid areas staked out by the child’s own parent. If your step-son says, “Dad says he’ll teach me to sail,” don’t run out to the nearest shipyard.
9. Sometimes it can take until adulthood for the step-children to realize the caring and special qualities of the step-parent. Be patient.
10. Don’t mock or criticize the other biological parent. That parent is, not just chromosomally speaking, half the child, so you are really attacking the child. Keep information about that parent’s love life and financial situation away from theh child until the parent informs him.I had one client
11. Don’t try to win your step-child through bribery–gifts, special outings, etc.–if your home is more financially comfortable than the other parent’s home. This can backfire, as children can identify with the underdog.
12. Avoid the “‘romantic antidote marriage fantasy’: my significant other’s first wife/husband was so bad, our new marriage will heal it all.”
13. Discipline–now there’s a tough one. But for the first 18-24 months of marriage, view your interaction with your step-children as more like that of a camp counselor with his/her camper. Be there for their safety–but not necessarily for enforcement. It’s only after the marriage is solid and you have come to know your step-children as people–as they have come to view you–that you should take an active role in their discipline.
Next we’ll talk about Ilene and Ira, a middle-aged couple where both parents have 2 children from their first marriage. Hold on to your hats.