1. Parents should get together and come up with “House Rules”. This is a way to keep a united front when it comes to parenting. This is especially important when the parents come into the marriage with differing ideas about parenting. For example if the wife’s 16 year old daughter had a curfew of 11:00 and the husband’s 16 year old son didn’t have a curfew.
  2. Let’s be honest, we can be protective and bias towards our own biological children. This is normal. For example, if your spouse is critical of your child’s behavior, you may feel yourself get defensive and want to side with your children. Try to be aware of this tendency and allow yourself to take in what your spouse is trying to communicate to you. You may realize that there is some truth to what was said.
  3. It may take time for your relationship with your stepchildren to grow and flourish. Remember, the kids didn’t ask for any of this. It isn’t unusual for kids to feel sad, resentful and angry. They may show this by being disrespectful and defiant. The negative behaviors should be addressed, however, try to keep your emotions in check by considering their position in the situation.
  4. There is some debate about whether the biological parent should handle discipline with their own kids or if both the biological parent and step parent should handle discipline. In my opinion, I think it is best that both parents handle discipline. Both parents should discuss the behavior and agree on a consequence. If the kids object to being disciplined by someone who is “not my parent” reiterate that these are “house rules” agreed upon by both adults in the household.
  5. Spend time having fun together. One of the best ways to nurture the relationships between the family members is to bond through shared experiences. This reinforces the newly formed family system.