“Parents often underestimate the extent and the importance of the changes that children go through when they integrate into a new stepfamily.”
As parents and co-parents, the number one goal for our blended families is usually to make sure that our children are able to cohesively adapt to their newfound families. Unfortunately, we often underestimate the feelings of grief and loss that our children feel and if there are other children within the family that are also being blended in and these childen end up becoming territorial and often times, that means war — not just for the children but also for the parents involved!
Traditional families and stepfamilies alike have the problem of sibling rivalry, however, one major difference is that when a remarriage occurs, one set of children usually has to adapt to a different home, a whole new set of rules and the order of their lives has been turned upside down. For the children that currently live in the home, they usually have it a bit easier considering they don’t have to change homes, but rather they most likely have the experience of their birth order becoming askewed. For example, a youngest child may no longer be the baby of the family and the oldest child may find they he/she has older siblings now.
Another cause of sibiling rivalry is often us. Parents themselves often tend to show favortism toward their own children. Although most parents try their best and think they are being fair, at times, they really arent. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but for children dealing with this situation, it can be very emotionally distressing. One way of alleviating this issue is to deal with the relationship you and your stepchild share. Make sure your stepchild knows that you care for them as much as you care for your biological children. This will help to allieveate some of their emotional stress. Sibling rivalry is fairly common and can be addressed relatively easy and it is important to do so. Here are a few ways to help you address some of the sensitive issues that come along with step-sibling rivalry:
- Use the children’s conflicts to teach them to recognize their emotions.
- Never lose sight of your goals as a parent which means you are responsbile for training them for relationships, character, etc.
- Don’t let any of the children wear your down.
- Use the particular rivalry to teach them that you as the parents are in control.
- Don’t rush to solve every problem for them — let them work things out on their own. This teaches them to own their responsibility.
- Teach them to forgive.
- Reset your expectations. Conflict is going to happen.
- Teach them tolerance. Make sure all children in the household know that their opinions matter and they are free to express them in healthy ways.
- Teach them respective communication.
Step-siblings usually fight with each other because they lack the social skills to work things out. They’re naturally self-centreed, so they don’t empathize with one another. We have to teach them how to negotiate and to give and take. TMF Readers, remember, our children did not ask to be thrust into a blended/step family. It is our responsbility to make sure they have the right tools to navigate successfully. If we don’t, we may well end up with a disaster on our hands.
Peace & Blessings,