When blending two families together, it’s hard not to fall for the Brady Bunch trap, thinking that everyone will love each other for the rest of forever. But unfortunately, the reality looks a lot bleaker. And when you have to deal with siblings and stepfamilies in the same sentence, things can get quite intense at the drop of a hat.
Understanding siblings and stepfamilies
It can be very hard to help step-siblings get along, and combating step-sibling rivalry can be even harder. Step-siblings have relationships that are worlds apart from normal sibling relationships. These sibs don’t have a parent in common, and sometimes, the house they live in is the ONLY thing they have in common. They also have parents that are married to each other. Both “things they have in common” can be sources of conflict.
Why birth order really matters
According to Dr Lawrence Kutner, the confusion of birth order can really fuel step-sibling rivalry. Kids that used to be the oldest or the youngest in their previous household might not have those rights or privileges once their parents get married again.
Perhaps some kids are used to being the only kid. They never had to share the attention of their parent. They also don’t know how to be a brother or sister because they never experienced it before. This leads them to fight and argue over pretty much everything. Power struggles might also be a real deal in your home with step-siblings around
How to manage rivalry between step-siblings
You might think that your kid is reacting to having to share the time he used to have with you as well as the idea of sharing his space and or possessions. But staying out of it might not be the ideal way to manage rivalry between step-siblings.
You shouldn’t be jumping into the middle of the fray and pick sides either, but subtle interventions could do a great deal of good here. It’s important to point out to the kids that they all have “their own stuff”, and they should keep it that way. This should help ease the tension in the house while everyone settles into the new family dynamic.
Another trick to try is to give each kid some individual time with their biological parent on a regular basis. Biological parents should be spending just as much time with their biological kids as they spend with their step kids.
At the end of the day, blending families definitely isn’t a walk in the park. It’s hard as hell. It can be the most trying thing you’ll ever do in your life, but if you have got the guts to do it, it could be one of the most rewarding endeavours.