Accepting Step-Parents Into Your Relationship With Your Child
Just celebrating Mother's Day these days can be a challenge with the large number of blended families that include parents, step-parents, and other adults. Who has a right to see the children of the original union, who should gifts be given to, and how can you celebrate when animosity still colors your relationship with the other parties? Children are often confused by the conflicting information that fills their world, and they need guidance in understanding how to deal with these other people who have come into their lives. What can you do to help them?
Start by accepting their feelings, no matter what they are. You may experience a bit of jealousy about the new person in your ex's life, and that's only normal, but now is not the time to let it show and speak spitefully about him or her. Your child should be allowed to make decisions on his or her own. If they like the step-parent and enjoy spending time with them, they should be allowed to, no matter how much you'd like to block the relationship. Your child will have to deal with both sides of his or her family for a lifetime, and it's better to encourage a healthy relationship from the onset. Making rude remarks about the new parent-figure in their life may make you feel better, but it will ultimately hurt the child.
Never try to compete with your new counterpart. You are your child's mother or father, no matter who comes into their life. Both of you trying to outdo the other to gain the child's affection is going to end up with a very spoiled child. Never try to be who you aren't. For example, if your ex's new love has the money to buy the child expensive gifts, don't overspend your budget in an attempt to do the same. Spend time with the child. Do special activities together. Let them know how much you love them. Your child will love you even without the shiny gifts.
Let your child know that they have your permission to establish their own relationship with their new step-parent. Sometimes children hesitate to do so because they fear it will either anger or hurt you. Let them know that their feelings are valid and acceptable, because, in the end, they are going to be the winners in this situation.
You need to realize that it's going to take time for everyone involved to adjust to the new relationships, and never try to push it. Keep an open mind and a positive attitude, and eventually everything will turn out for the best.
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