Creating a healthy stepfamily can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. In fact, since the number of stepfamilies has tripled since the 1960s, many men and women have done just that. If you have children from a previous relationship and you’re considering a relationship with another special someone with kids, there are a few things you may want to consider to help ease the transition.

First, what do you expect moving forward? Sit down and discuss your expectations as it relates to topics like buying a house together, purchasing a car, date night, soccer practices and many other things. It’s better to have an idea of what you think it should look like, but adaptability is key.

How you will handle discipline is another thing to think about. For instance, is it okay for the stepparent to discipline their spouse’s child? It is often more assuring to kids (and their other parent) if their own biological parent disciplines them.

What about bonding with the kids? The bond stepparents have with their stepchild is immensely important for healthy and stable stepfamilies. You both should be able to talk about each child and feel that you are heard, but when it comes to children, consider the fact that marrying their parent is a BIG deal. Remember that you aren’t there to replace their father or mother, so focus on encouraging and building your own relationships with the children.

What about holidays – how will you handle those? Taking into account that the kids will spend time with both biological parents during the holidays, work to create new traditions and ask for the kids’ input for making the transitions a little easier. When the biological parents talk directly and make arrangements ahead of time, it can lessen confusion. Encourage family meetings so the children feel heard and valued during the process.

Although blending families is no easy task, discussing things like these ahead of time can help everyone prepare well for the journey ahead.

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