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Blended Families: Becoming a step-parent

Being a step-parent isn't easy. Remember, you and your new partner may have chosen each other, but that's no guarantee that the children want their mom or dad to remarry, or that your new partner's children will necessarily get along with you or your children. It takes time for everyone to become comfortable with each other, and even longer for affection and trust to develop. When you're first entering into a family, it's important to watch and learn the family's existing routines without being critical or trying to change them.

Be open and clear about the fact that you will not replace the parent they no longer live with. Instead, focus on developing your own unique relationship with your step-children. The best way to work toward a smooth transition is to become involved in family activities and to take an interest in your step-children's lives without being too pushy or overbearing. Also, allow your spouse to have time alone with his or her children. However, you and your spouse need to have time without your step-children, as well.

You may find you need some help working out your feelings about being a step-parent, especially if you have mixed feelings, or if your mixed feelings are keeping you from getting along with your step-children, or are interfering with your relationship with your spouse. If this is the case, talk to a friend or therapist, or, if you are in Canada, and you wish to speak to a counsellor, contact Parent Help Line, 1-888-603-9100.

If your step-child is showing signs of real resentment toward you, such as continually pushing you away and keeping you at a distance, constantly having angry outbursts, even when you are not trying to force yourself on him, or some other type of unmanageable behaviour, the new family may need to get some professional help. The child may still be dealing with some of the issues remaining from the break-up of the original family, and you're only one part of it. In such a situation, if you are in Canada, and you wish to speak to a counsellor, contact Parent Help Line, 1-888-603-9100.

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