Since I am a custodial step-parent, my perspective is from that point of view. My stepkids
live with me full time, but that isn't the case for many step-mothers. Many of you are
probably spending a lot more time with your stepkids than you are used to doing. This
post is dedicated to those of you that might be experiencing a difficult transition from
part-time to full-time stepparent. Here are my suggestions for an enjoyable extended stay
for your stepfamily:
1. Before the visit, talk to you spouse about your hopes, expectations and concerns.
Doing this before issues arise will minimize defensiveness and help your spouse see that
you are honestly trying to prepare for a positive experience. Ask him/her for their hopes,
concerns, etc also.
2. Develop the house rules with your spouse before the visit begins. Establish individual
responsibilities for all of the children, residential and non-residential alike. This will help
the non-residential kids feel like a part of the family. If you have teens, set limits together
for curfew, standards of respectful conduct, etc. Doing so together will help present a
united front to the kids and will give the stepparent something to fall back on (these are
the house rules, not my rules).
3. Don't attempt to entertain your stepkids all summer. Non-residential parents and step
parents tend to try to hard to make the visit fun. Instead focus on building an atmosphere
of family. Schedule in some fun activities, but don't over-do-it. Share your ideas with the
kids and put them up on a calendar so they can see what to expect.
4. Give all the kids an opportunity to express their own expectations, hopes and concerns.
If you don't see them very often you may want to check-in with them about their interests
so you can be sure to address those during the visit.
5. Provide a permanent place for your stepkids' belongings as well as a place they can go
to when they want to be alone. You may not have room for them to have their own
bedroom, but you can at least help them identify a place they can retreat. Also, providing
them a place to store their belongings will help them feel like a member of the family and
not just a visitor living out of a suitcase.
Of course, many of you may have your own tips and tricks for making the summer an
enjoyable experience, so please, add them to the list.
For additional tips, see my website at: http://www.blackwellfamilyresources.com