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Divorce, remarriage and blended families are certainly a common occurrence nowadays. Many parents handle it with strength and dignity, always remembering that children are also involved in the process, and work to ensure the kids have good support during the transition.
Nevertheless, it is never easy for a child to process the emotional events of first a divorce, then the eventual remarriage of one or both parents. Adding new step-siblings to the picture can also add worry and anxiety to a young child’s life.
Establishing a blended family is a stressful situation. In my experience as a teacher, I have seen the stress of a new family situation manifest itself in a child in different ways.
One student began sucking his thumb and making daily requests to see the nurse because his stomach ached. Another year, a student developed a pretty bad case of hives the morning his dad was leaving to go away and get married. Thankfully, these worried kids had amazing parents and stepparents that worked hard to establish a calm and loving new home.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), when a parent remarries, he or she should openly discuss with children what is going to happen. A wedding is a joyous occasion and the kids will most likely want to be part of that. Giving a young child a special role to play in the wedding party will add to the positive mood.
After the transition, AAP notes that blended families begin to settle into a routine much like any other family. During this time, a stepchild may decide to test the new stepparent, in the same way any child can test his own parents. Sometimes, the stepchild is acting out because of leftover stress from the divorce.
How you react can make a big difference. Patience, understanding, and a genuine effort on your part to get along will make a more lasting and positive impression in your life with your new family.
Finding common interests or activities to share with your new step kids will help forge relationships and build trust. Take time to communicate and resolve differences and you will be rewarded with the respect and trust from your new family.