Be patient and firm as you integrate into a new family.

How to Deal With Stepchildren When They Hate You

by Dana Tuffelmire

Blending families is a delicate issue. When young kids are involved, it's downright sticky. While the two parents might be doe-eyed in love, the children will certainly bring a dose of reality into the picture. After a divorce or death of a parent, kids face many emotions and changes. When a parent decides to remarry, the kids are forced to adapt yet again to a situation they may not have asked for. As a new stepparent, you need to be considerate of the kids' feelings and tread lightly as you make your place in a new family.

1 Be Patient: No matter how in love you are with a new mate, take time after a divorce or death before jumping into a new marriage. Don't expect the kids to fall instantly in love with you. They may still hold hope that their original parents will get back together and might resent you for stepping into the picture. Get to know the kids gradually by spending time together as a family. Take every opportunity to get to know the kids by attending important events, talking with them and making an effort to learn as much as possible about them.

2 Insist on Respect: You and your spouse must always insist on respect from the get-go. Whether the kids like it or not, you have made a commitment to this new marriage. When children act out in disrespectful ways, administer consequences to let them know the behavior or attitude is not tolerated in the home. The kids will eventually come around to view you as an authority figure if you are firm and consistent. Expect the kids to test you and pass with flying colors every time.

3 Spend Time Together: The best way to get to know your stepchildren is to spend time with them. Don't take time away from the parent they have been separated from, but use the time you do have together wisely. Show an interest in the child's hobbies or interests, go on family outings or create new traditions together. Show the kids that you are committed to making the family work and they aren't going to be able to drive you out. Over time, the kids will warm-up to you.

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