Here’s a few ideas to help you to build strong bonds in your step-family:
Don’t force the pace! It takes time for step-families to feel comfortable together.
Make it safe for the children to talk about their feelings and grieve their losses. Failure to grieve can result in anger and alienation.
Don’t rubbish your ‘ex’ in front of the children. They want to be loyal to both of you and don’t want to take sides.
A non-resident child needs to feel part of the family, not just a ‘visitor’. Put their school photo, trophies, drawings etc on show. Also display photos of things you’ve done together as a family so that you can start to build new memories.
Agree with your partner how you will parent your children together and what your roles will be as parent and step-parent. This will help children to adjust to a new authority figure gradually, without worrying that the new step-parent will immediately ‘replace’ their other mother or father.
Involve children in family chores. Giving them a choice of job helps them to co-operate.
Remember that all children and teenagers need their own space, friends and activities. Let them invite a friend to stay occasionally if possible.
Make sure that the birth parent and their child can have some time on their own together now and again.