Stepfamily Living – Part 4

Session 12 | Episode 4

Let the children set the pace

I want to begin today’s podcast with a word of caution – don’t expect to have an ‘instant family’.  All the couples with whom we have met expect their children to be just as excited about the new relationship as they are.  Parents move faster than the children and we find that couples in love assume the children will automatically be in love with their partner and embrace them as a new parent.  They are surprised when this doesn’t happen.  Statistics show that stepfamilies can take up to seven years to ‘gel’ so adjust your expectations of everyone involved.  Sometimes children can be excited BEFORE the marriage, but they can lose some enthusiasm afterwards, when the newness wears off, and they experience daily living with this new parent and possible stepsiblings.  Be prepared for this to happen.

For most children the remarriage was not THEIR choice. It may be a secondary loss if their biological parent is still alive because they usually have hopes that their bio parents will remarry.

For most children the remarriage was not THEIR choice. It may be a secondary loss if their biological parent is still alive because they usually have hopes that their bio parents will remarry.

For most children the remarriage was not THEIR choice.  It may be a secondary loss if their biological parent is still alive because they usually have hopes that their bio parents will remarry.  The stepparent represents the death of that dream and the children may begin to see the stepparent as the enemy. 
 
Recognise that sometimes a child’s anger is really an expression of grief and loss.  Allow them time to process that loss and adjust to the new relationship.

Proactively plan family activities

Don’t demand children call the stepparent mom or dad and don’t even force them to spend time together if they don’t want to.  But you should expect them to respect the stepparent even if they don’t want to spend time with them.  Proactively plan family activities, whether it is a game and pizza night, or a picnic – whatever suits your family – where they can spend fun time with the stepparent in an environment without pressure and expectations. 

Our advice is to slow down and let the children set the pace.   A wise parent will even delay a remarriage until the children are more amenable to the relationship.  It will save a lot of heartache and stress in the long run. 

Presented by

Patty Borgert

Patty Borgert

Patty has a degree in Family Studies from New Mexico State University in the US. She has lived in Africa for 45 years and has worked in Eswatini, Zimbabwe and South Africa. She and her husband, Ken, have been married for thirty-five years and have two children. They have been working with FamilyLife, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ, for thirty-four years.

Patty Borgert

Patty Borgert

Patty has a degree in Family Studies from New Mexico State University in the US. She has lived in Africa for 45 years and has worked in Eswatini, Zimbabwe and South Africa. She and her husband, Ken, have been married for thirty-five years and have two children. They have been working with FamilyLife, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ, for thirty-four years.

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