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Twelve Secrets for Successful Stepparenting

  • Give all the family members space
    Members of all families need some private time and a place they can go to be alone. It's often more difficult for a blended family because extra space may be in short supply. Instill in all members of the family, even the little ones, respect for a closed door. Create a meditation area outside in the backyard, if possible, with a bench or swing facing a goldfish pond, waterfall, wind chimes, or a flower garden. Stores like Home Depot have many items you can purchase to help you create a relaxing environment for family members to be by themselves for a while.

    Arrange seating in your home so there is a cozy spot in the living room or den, behind a screen if necessary, where someone can sit quietly and read a book, write in a diary, or just be alone with his or her thoughts.

    Togetherness is wonderful in a fun loving, lively family, but moments of quietude are important too. Try to create room for both in your blended family.

  • Spend time alone with your spouse
    Spend time alone with your spouse! Spend time alone with your spouse! It's important enough to say it twice. Your love for your spouse is the reason (hopefully) you became a stepparent. Give your love time, space, respect, and the environment to grow deeper and stronger.

    Even if at first your stepkids resent you for marrying their parent, they will see a strong role model for marriage if you make the time to strengthen that marriage. What better gift can you give children than to show that a man and woman can be both friends and lovers and that all marriages don't include fighting, anger, and disloyalty and end in divorce?

    When you make time to develop your marital relationship from the beginning, you'll find that you and your spouse are still best friends when the children are grown and move out of your home. If your kids are now still at the age that you need baby-sitters, enlist the grandparents or other members of the extended family to give you that respite. If you and your ES have shared custody, use the time when you don't have the children to play, talk, and be intimate with your new spouse. Leave the housework for later. You can always clean the garage out when the kids arc home.

    Plan for your future happiness together by starting now to make time for yourselves as a couple.

  • Shed anger and bitterness
    Negative emotions can adversely affect both your physical and mental health. What's more, they can become contagious, seeping into the core of your blended family and altering your kids' perceptions of people, marriage, trust, and life in general. It's a heavy load to continue carrying your anger and bitterness from one marriage into another. Drop that burden.

    Instead, pick up a positive outlook. You can control your thoughts. Whenever a negative thought creeps in, replace it with something positive. Do this until it becomes second nature with you. Many years ago, author Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, "A man is what he thinks about all day." So rather than ruminating on the bad deal you got from the lawyers during your divorce or the difficulties you still encounter with your ES, focus on the positives in your life—your new wonderful spouse, the great kids in your blended family, your good health, sound mind, and so on. As Norman Vincent Peale preached in his many books, there is power in positive thinking.

  • Next: Be honest >>

    From Blending Families by Elaine Fantle Shimberg. Copyright © 1999. Used by arrangement with Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

    If you'd like to buy this book, click here or on the book cover. Get a 15% discount with the coupon code FENPARENT.


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