The question came from Judy in Iowa:
Q: I’m about to become a step mother to three children, but I don’t have any children of my own. What advice can you give me to help me with this transition?
A: Judy – first of all, congratulations on your impending blended family. Many people cannot handle the thought of this type of situation and the fact that you are willing to take on this responsibility says a lot about what a great person you are. Make sure to sit down with your new spouse to be and discuss roles, rules, and discipline. All of these need to be determined up front and then discussed with the children so that everyone knows what is expected of them. Develop a positive relationship with your step children, but understand that this takes time. Do not try and force the relationship. Make sure to address the immediate basic needs and your chances of success will be greater.
It is only natural you would want your step children to love you, respect you, and obey you. It is also only natural you might feel you have no right to their love, respect, or obedience. The only thing you may be certain of is you may feel out of place at first, and uncertain of what your role in the new family might be, however over time things will fall into place. It can take up to two years, or more, for a child to accept a new person in their biological parents’ life, so be patient. One other thing that will be of utmost importance, is communication.
Engage in active listening every chance you get. Active listening is a communication technique where you allow someone to tell you something (without interruption), and then repeat back what you thought you heard – allowing the other person to correct you if you are incorrect. This shows that you want to understand them and take the time to listen to them.
Good luck with your new family. Stop by and let us know how it is going.