“Money will always be a major issue for remarried couples because trust, commitment, and the guarantee of permanence are the underlying issues. … The initial stepfamily money management system needs to be flexible, not carved in stone. … It’s an ongoing process that requires compromise and renegotiation.”
“If stepchildren make comparisons between you and the natural parent or share unkind remarks with you, don’t take the bait to cast an insult. Keep your feelings to yourself, because it will inevitably get back to your stepchildren. Or it may force your spouse to feel he has to take sides.”
“Your children and stepchildren are watching everything you and your spouse do. They’re watching to see how you solve conflicts, they’re watching to see if you’re going to stay together. That means it’s critical that we put our marriage first … The reality is that if you put your marriage first, if you put everything into that marriage to make it succeed, you’re going to provide those children with a good, balanced, stable home.”
“Often there resides in the biological parent a deep sense of guilt over what has happened to the children. While that’s understandable, it can often damage the new marriage … Parents will tend to overlook boundary issues because of guilt. Do not allow this to happen. Talk to your spouse honestly but candidly.”
“Early in remarriage, the most successful stepparent-stepchild relationships are those where the stepparent focuses first on the development of a warm, friendly interaction style with the stepchild. Once a foundation of mutual respect and affection is established, stepparents who then attempt to assume a disciplinarian role are less likely to meet with resentment from the stepchild.”
“Be sure that you set the ground rules for authority in the home before the remarriage. Determine that you will support each other, even when your spouse has made what you consider to be an unwise decision in relationship to the children (unless it brings them into physical or spiritual danger). You may well want to discuss the decision when the children are in bed and decide on a change. Then it will be Mom’s and Dad’s decision.”
“Even though you may never get beyond a normal friendship level with your former spouse, you need the emotional stability that positive emotions give you. You need the support of your former spouse in dealing with your children who learn quickly that they can play one against the other when Mom and Dad don’t agree.”
“Children will always try to push the boundaries of a second marriage … Once they see who is really in charge, they will begin to use one set of parents against the other to achieve their own goals. Make sure you and your spouse stay united in front of them. If you have a disagreement, handle it in private when the children are not around.”
“Visiting children should be expected to follow house rules and participate in chores like everyone else. They will need extra reminders of the rules and a little ‘grace space’ as they make adjustments, but in the end, structure is good for everyone.”
“Effective parent-stepparent teams begin with healthy marriages. Take time to nurture your relationship, date on a regular basis, learn to communicate and resolve conflict, and enjoy a healthy sexual relationship. Make your marriage a priority.”
“When stepfamily life gets tough, remaining dedicated to your commitment is a day-to-day decision … Commitment requires that you strive for a better life together, even when you don’t feel like putting forth your best effort or have convinced yourself the marriage should have never happened in the first place.”
“People in stepfamilies are not ‘second-rate Christians,’ simply because there is no such thing as a ‘first-rate Christian.’ We’re all sinners and all less than perfect. All our families are less than ideal. And we all need a Savior.”
Encourage your mentee to work through any leftover baggage from their previous marriage. Unsettled issues or bitterness toward a former spouse will eventually poison all the relationships within the new marriage and family.
Encourage the mentee toward realistic expectations by avoiding the idea that stepfamilies should happen the same as nuclear families.
Encourage your mentee not to take over the parent role too quickly. Until the stepchild is ready to accept your authority it is best to position yourself behind the biological parent and play a supportive role rather than directive one.
Encourage stepparents to focus first on the development of a warm and friendly relationship with the stepchild rather than immediately stepping in as a disciplinarian.
Encourage participation in a HomeBuilders parenting Bible study with other Christian stepparents.
Encourage regular family meetings where every family member can be heard and where rules can be explained, understood, and adjusted when necessary.
Encourage them to improve problem-solving skills that identify and “own” feelings rather than blaming or shaming. This develops a win-win atmosphere in the home.
Affirm the fact that stressful situations will abound within the complex structure of a stepfamily. A spiritually growing stepfamily is one that anticipates mistakes as a normal part of life. Stressful situations are seen as opportunities to grow.
Encourage your mentee to realize that balancing the needs of the children and the needs of the marriage is a constant priority. If done properly, this provides the family with stability and maintains proper generational boundaries. The longer the single-parent role was held, the more difficult the new couple bond will be to establish in remarriage.
Encourage your mentee to get involved in a local, Bible-believing church for spiritual growth and support.
Encourage your mentee to read articles and books to help them understand the uniqueness of stepfamily dynamics