The catchy song. The smiling faces.
It always seemed so much fun watching the Brady Bunch on TV. They were the picture-perfect stepfamily.
Sure, they had problems, but they always overcame them. There was nothing they couldn’t handle together. They stuck it out, through thick and thin.
“If only it was as easy as on TV,” you may think.
It may not be that easy. But you can certainly make it easier.
Take a deep breath and stay positive. In just a few minutes, you can learn the basics of how to blend better than the Brady’s.
7 Simple Ways to Build Bonds in a Stepfamily
Keep the pressure low and limit your expectations. Don’t try to win your stepchildren over by spending excessive time with them or giving expensive gifts. Just relax, befriend them, and wait patiently until they’re ready for a closer relationship with you. They will let you know.
2. Be understanding
Allow each child time to grieve – either the divorce of their parents or the death of one parent. They need ample time to process the new situation. In a divorce situation, they may even try to sabotage the new marriage in hopes that their own parents change their minds and get back together. Don’t take it personally! Show compassion and understanding, respect their feelings, and be ready to listen when they need you.
3. Stay real
Children can sense when someone is not sincere. So, be honest, demonstrate confidence, and make good choices – things that will help them to develop trust in you. Look at the situation through their eyes. Show interest in what is important to them and share your own interests with them. In time, they may see you as a close confidante.
4. Nurture individual relationships
Get to know your stepchildren individually. Learn to appreciate who they are and what they like. Spend some time with them alone. It doesn’t have to be hours – 15 minutes on a regular, daily basis can help you bond more. Allow them to have time alone with their biological parent as well. You don’t always have to be there, glued to your new spouse’s side. At the same time, don’t forget to keep spending one-on-one time with your own children. Otherwise, they may feel pushed to the side.
5. Laugh and play
Do things together as a family – fun things. Play games that make you laugh, roughhouse or playfully wrestle, watch funny movies together, or just act silly. Play and laughter reduce tension and bring a family closer together.
6. Treat everybody as family
Having a fun time isn’t the only way to make everyone feel like part of the family. Having their own beds and closet space, sharing responsibilities, and doing chores are also ways to keep your stepchildren from feeling like they’re just guests. Plus, being involved in their education, overseeing their homework, teaching them values, and giving them praise are all ways you can treat them as your own.
7. Model respect for the other parents
Keep any negative comments about your ex-spouses to yourselves. Show respect for them and get along. Even if the children lose all contact with their other parent, never display disrespect for that parent, or let the children do so. They might develop a relationship later on and resent any disparaging remarks you make.
Always remember, the bonds within a blended family are created – and must be maintained – by everyone. As the parents, take the initiative and be the examples. Show your children that you’re making every effort to be a family because you know it will benefit them. Regularly apply the above suggestions and consistently work on nurturing your bond, with patience and love.