Setting Clear Expectations
When possible, include children in the process of deciding on new rules, while being clear that respect and kindness are key. Encourage sharing chores—working together can help everyone appreciate each other’s contributions to the new household.
Give children time to get to know one another. Praise them for the small steps they take towards growing their trust and friendship. “I see you’re working hard on that puzzle together.”
When families merge homes, children may worry that they’ll have to share everything or give up their personal space. Honor children’s needs to have some space and belongings that are just for them, while also setting new rules about sharing and taking turns.
Supporting the New and the Old
Reassure children that new relationships happen alongside existing ones. A new stepparent isn’t a replacement mom or dad but another grown-up who will be around to love and take care of them. Remind children that the relationship they have with their other parent is as important and special as it’s always been.
Finally, remember that you’re not in this alone. Look for a support organization or group in your community or online. Many families are making this transition, and it can help to share ideas, feelings, and strategies with others who are going through it too!