Dear Jeanne,

No matter what I do for my husband’s children, they treat me horribly. I have tried to talk with him about this and he says that he doesn’t know what to do about it … this blending families is not the easiest thing.

F. D

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Dear F. D. –

The blending of families can be challenging to most. Time is needed for children to accept and begin to appreciate the expanded family unit. How long that takes is dependent on many factors, including the age of the children and the “rabidness” of their mother or father (the former spouse).

The inputs that children receive are so important to their well-being. Too often parents lose themselves in the anger and grieving process that divorcing creates and their children witness or receive inputs that influence their relationship with the other parent.

There are many variables that govern behaviors in a situation like this, including the ages of the children involved. Often times older children will find a new family culture challenging, as they have a “normal” that is their groove. Also, basic personalities or temperaments come into play here.

At any age, asking children to bond within a new unit can be tricky for them. Some children are more purposely resistant, while others more genuinely go with the flow of the new adventure.

You are in a new leadership role and it is important to recognize that. Showing up at a higher level of leadership is required. You are asking the children to follow you and you can do that through demands and upsets or through guiding the process from a higher, more loving perspective.

The first step is to seek to seek to understand their perspective – that they might be dealing with any number of unresolved feelings about their parents’ divorce and their father’s choice to remarry. They are now being asked to share space with people that they barely know (or have only known socially to this point). They have different house rules and family culture to navigate, and all from a more immature perspective. There are any number of possible circumstances contributing here.

Children often feel like victims without a choice or a say. They feel forced to flow in the direction of their parents’ choices. Some of the resistance that you are experiencing is a reaction to this feeling of “no choice”.

Acceptance is key here. If the children are obviously resistant to the current set-up (which is their new reality), then you must first accept that their outward expressions indicates this. Letting them walk all over you is not the answer and nor would I suggest that. Setting gentle boundaries that are founded in sincere CARING and LOVE for them, in spite of how they are currently showing up, is a good choice for you to make.

However, if you only know how to set harsher boundaries, you will encounter definite “reverb” to your boundaries. You will feel the energetic push-back that contributes to the downward spiral.

Learning to set proactive, gentle boundaries means staying accountable to your own heart-space: keeping your actions and words coming from goodness and kindness. This will bring you and your new blending-family the energetic culture for each to grow into the new family structure at their individual pace.

Many marry and do not consider the “fall-out” that has on the children involved. They might have assumed that there would be an adjustment, yet it’s taking much longer than their timetable anticipated.

In my own experience, even adult children can have some difficulties in their willingness to embrace a parent’s choice to marry again. A mature perspective is not age-related, it is individual-related.

Your consistent demonstration of love through caring is essential to a happy, harmonious blended-family. Focusing on the love that you feel for their father (or mother) will come through your actions and will help to creating the higher frequency of love within your family culture.

You will be called to withstand the many resistances that can be generated by the children involved in your new family unit. This resistance will dissolve more and more with each level of love that you more naturally occupy and display for the individuals and for the whole.

Granting your stepchildren grace and choosing to consistently operate from kindness can lessen their resistance to you and the new family unit. Making it less about you and more about genuine caring for them – and the ideal vision of the new family unit that you are seeking to create – will cause the energetic shift that you are desiring.

If you have trouble with this, do reach out for additional resources on understanding temperaments, and love languages, which can greatly assist you.

Much love to you,