1. Make a photograph album immediately with pictures of each child and family events.
2. A new house for a new step family eliminates the ghosts of a former marriage. Territorial squabbles diminish when a shift is made from your house or my house to OUR house.
3. Be sensitive about where each person sits at the family dining table and be sure to put the former spouse's "favorite" chair in the garage, or better yet, give it to them.
4. Stepparents need to sit in the front seat of the car so competition is lessened between stepparent and children.
5. Children should not be message bearers for parents. Parents need to take the responsibility to make arrangements about activities, destinations, pick-up and drop-off times. If you cannot talk to one another in a civil manner, write notes, send email; all in a courteous manner.
6. Listen to hurt feelings without judging or having to "fix it" As a stepparent, you will develop a better relationship with stepchildren if you listen and acknowledge their feelings... good and bad.
7. Do not expect stepparents to love your child the way you do. He or she can't "love" your children until a mutually desired relationship is formed with the child.... and,that may take 5 to 7 years, according to the Stepfamily Association of America.
8. Give a hug to the children, and to your spouse each day. Stepfamilies need lots of affection. Don't let a prickly '"step anybody" control the family's need for healthy affection...they're just scared to attach.
9. Stepparents, take your stepchild out for lunch, a movie or an activity you both enjoy...alone. Friendships can develop more easily in private than under the whole family's microscope.
10. If you are an ex, treat the new stepparent the way you will want to be treated when you remarry. The odds are great that you will remarry, and be in a stepfamily yourself.
11. Stepparents need to take time for themselves occasionally. Get a babysitter have, one of the older children babysit and go out on a date together. You need to continue your courtship on a regular basis, as day-to-day stepfamily living may be stressful at times.
12. Take a stepfamily class. Call 208-322-2908 for more information or check out our class information on our website.