Thursday, May 6, 2010

Important tips for Step-parenting

By: Carole L. Chiamp

Prominent Michigan family law attorney Carole L. Chiamp, who is of counsel to our firm, is a family law court-approved mediator. She is among the first attorneys in Michigan to obtain this designation. She currently authors a monthly article in the Michigan Family Law Journal entitled "Mediation Matters."

Her May 2010 article, "Mediation and the Blended Family," focuses on the struggles that step-parents and step-children face as their families become one.

As Carole reports, it is expected that in 2010, the number of step-families in the United States will outnumber all other family types. Although it’s natural for Mom and Dad to think they’ll have “instant success” with the new blending of families, forming a new family after a death or divorce is not so easy. These families with more family members who are often very different from one another, end up having more and different conflicts than biological families.

Here are some helpful tips for step-families:

  1. Be patient. Relationships take time to develop.

  2. Accept the role of step-mother/step-father. It is a different role from that of biological parent (more like a caring uncle or aunt), but it is very important.

  3. Partners need to support one another and establish a relationship separate from the children.

  4. Learn to live with the reality of ex-spouses.

  5. Develop a relationship with step-children before attempting to discipline them. Family meetings are sometimes helpful.

  6. Do not take misbehaviors personally. Every stepparent goes through a period of testing by the children.

  7. It’s okay to ask for courtesy and respect from your step-children. In return, you must be courteous to the children and treat them fairly.

  8. Discuss appropriate dress, privacy and modesty with regard to teenage children.

  9. Don’t expect to love your step-children or have the step-children love you instantly. Try to find a special interest to share with them.

  10. Don’t denigrate the children’s biological parent. That only hurts the children and makes them feel defensive.

  11. Good communication and a sense of humor can be very helpful. Don’t try too hard. Remember, you are creating a new family. It is a great deal of work but can be rewarding in the long run.

Read the entire "Mediation and the Blended Family" article here.

The "Mediation Matters" archives can be found here.

No comments: