A blended family offers a unique chance for love and happiness for spouses after one or both has gone through a divorce. Stepfamilies face different challenges from their previous marriages as they form a new family structure, which can include a new parent or newly-created siblings.

Every family will deal with the changes differently. However, when children are involved, spouses do not have equal relationships with kids or the parenting process. This new dynamic sets up a series of boundaries that stepparents should avoid.

Common mistakes stepparents make

Parents understand that the welfare of their child should be the goal for every blended family. Stepparents should avoid making certain mistakes, such as:

  • Trying to replace a mother or father: Whether the new marriage is the result of divorce or death, stepparents will never take the place of a biological parent and should not try to. Instead, they should be clear with themselves and the child about their new role.
  • Spanking stepchildren: Even if they believe in corporal punishment, stepparents should never physically discipline a stepchild. Instead, they should report any issues to the biological parent to determine consequences, if any.
  • Assuming a position of authority: While younger children may accept a stepparent as an authority figure, older children will often reject their attempts to take charge. Instead, stepparents should present themselves as supportive friends to the children and as a resource to their partner.

Avoid parenting conversations between exes

Stepparents should also be aware that their partner and their partner’s ex-spouse will have discussions involving the children. They should keep from making these mistakes:

  • Getting involved in parenting discussions with their partner and exes
  • Getting involved in arguments between their partner and stepchildren
  • Ignoring or countering the wishes of the ex-spouse
  • Bad-mouthing the ex

Minimizing conflict is key to a healthy blended family

Divorce can be a contentious experience for all parties and create strong feelings for children, which can be applied to their new situation when one or both of their parents remarry. Stepparents who understand the emotions involved and take steps to reduce the opportunities for conflict can help a new family find happiness by creating a healthy environment.