Have you ever watched a movie about blended families? Most of the time there’s a barrier to overcome, but by the end of the movie everyone understands each other and gets along like a house on fire. Often these movies are comedies, which make everything look even more lighthearted and fun. If your stepchildren are disrespectful these movies may have you wondering why you don’t have the same relationship with your stepkids. Maybe instead of being precocious and sassy like the kids in the movies, they behave as though they don’t like you, or even disrespect you. But let’s be clear, these storylines are not the reality of most families.
Adjusting to a new family takes time and effort, both for the stepparent and the stepchildren. If you want to improve the relationship between yourself and your stepkids (or your partner and your kids) don’t worry, we’ve got some tips on how to inject some blended family comedy goodness into your home life.
If your stepchildren are disrespecting you
Disrespect in a family is not acceptable, blended or otherwise. No one can or should be forced into a relationship they’re not ready for, but it should be clear to all family members that respect is a basic right.
1. Get the rules straight at the start
Start as you mean to go on! Although you can’t force your stepchild to love or even like you immediately, you can require a certain level of respect. This means you and your partner have to lay down the rules right from the start so that your stepchild knows what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior. You should be clear that you will also respect them and their boundaries.
2. Be firm about disrespectful behavior
Once you lay the ground rules, you and your partner should be firm in enforcing them. It’s no use if you make the rules but you don’t enforce them, because then your stepchild will see that you’re not serious. Being consistent is the best thing you can do for the family. Your partner plays an important role here and should back you up if your stepchildren are disrespectful to you.
3. Get to know your stepchild
It’s crucial that you get to know your stepchild. As you get to know them, you’ll get a deeper understanding of the emotions they are going through. If there are situations that consistently cause them to behave disrespectfully or act out against you, getting to know them better may help you get to the bottom of this.
4. Don’t try too much too soon
Don’t try to rush the relationship. Wherever you are on your journey to know each other better, try to enjoy the process instead of always trying to push ahead to the next stage. Your stepchild has been through a lot and will need time to adjust to the marriage, and learn to trust you as their stepparent. Some research shows that it can take four to seven years for a stepfamily to function like a biological family.
5. Keep talking to your spouse
You and your spouse should be a team in navigating this relationship. Your stepkids will look to them especially and if their parent doesn’t call them out on their behavior they may feel like it’s acceptable. Talk to your spouse about what’s happening, what you’re feeling, and what you’re going through. Discuss what’s working and what’s not and from there you’ll be able to face these challenges together.