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"Our Kids Can't Seem to Get Along!"
Step Family Survival Tips

By Susie and Otto Collins

Karen and Paul were so happy to find one another. Both thought that they would be single for the rest of their lives after their first marriages (to other people) ended.

Their second chance at passionate love and companionship is marred by the constant bickering and fights between their 5 children-- 2 from Paul's first marriage and 3 from Karen's first marriage.

Their step family has tried family meetings, sticker chart reward systems and plenty of groundings too as an attempt to bring some peace into their home.

Nothing has really worked.

Some days it feels like a war zone in their own home. This animosity between their kids has spilled over and disturbed their close and connected relationship which distresses both of them.

Karen and Paul sometimes question whether they've made a mistake by bringing their kids together and forcing them to be a family.

If you have a blended or step family, you might be in a similar position to Karen and Paul.

You may wish your life resembled "The Brady Bunch," where the majority of the time everyone is content and helps one another out.

Instead, it feels to you and your partner as if you're living with the feuding Hatfields and McCoys!

When you feel such love for your husband or wife, it can be frustrating-- to say the least-- when your own kids can't seem to get along with your mate's kids.

You might find yourself irritated with your kids, your partner's kids, your partner and even yourself.

The reasons for the bickering and fights may be a mystery to you or you may have an idea of the specific dynamics that are fueling them.

Of course, both sets of children might have mixed, or even negative, feelings about this new situation.

They may feel that they were left out of the decision-making process for their own lives.

They might worry that this step-parent is trying to take the place of their biological parent with whom they spend less time. They could resent the attention that the other kids get from you.

Any or all of these could be going on for your children. It can be helpful for you to understand where they are coming from.

While you probably can't magically fix it for your kids, you can develop greater compassion for them from a place of understanding.

In addition to gaining a deeper understanding of what your kids are experiencing, there are other steps you can take to initiate positive changes that will make your home a more harmonious environment.

Don't take sides.
When Karen walks into a room to a major argument between her kids and Paul's kids, she has a tendency to side with Paul's kids. She doesn't mean to, it just happens that way.

For you, it might be different. You may jump to defend or problem-solve for your own kids when tensions arise.

All of this is natural. In the midst of conflict, many of us feel compelled to step in and manage the situation.

We encourage step-parents not to take sides when it comes to struggles between their kids.

Of course, if some form of abuse or physical violence is occurring, you will need to intervene and separate those involved.

When we recommend that you not take sides, it doesn't mean that you necessarily will be ignoring the conflict either.

What it does mean is that you choose to intervene in a way that will allow all involved to be heard. You will stay as open and impartial as possible and, essentially, be a mediator.

Don't take it personally if it seems to be "your" kids who are the instigators of the arguments-- or if instead they tend to be the "victims."

You can be of most help to everyone if you remember to breathe and make sure that everyone gets to air their position.

It can be powerful to repeat back and summarize what a child or "side" has to say.

This can promote clarity about what the issue truly is.

Involve the kids in finding a solution by asking them to brainstorm possible ways that everyone can get their needs met.

Make time for connection.
Be sure that you are making time to connect in with all members of your step family.

This means that you get away from both sets of kids and have time for just you and your partner. This could be time for romance and passion in a hotel or cabin the woods or a cup of coffee in a quiet space.

By all means, regularly create some one-to-one time with each of your kids.

Even if this is a simple 5 or 10 minute conversation in which you are solely focused on what he or she has to say, the effects are powerful.

You might find that you don't have to "make time" for connection.

Just be aware of possible moments to touch in with a mix of family members gathered-- your own biological kids and those of your mate.

Be present and appreciate those times of connection. Knowing that you can have even moments of harmony and peace can help you create even more.
If you'd like more tips for how to have a close and passionate relationship, check out Susie and Otto Collins' free report: "5 Keys to a Great Relationship"


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Contact Info
Relationship Coaches Susie and Otto Collins, PO Box 14544, Columbus, OH 43214
Contact Susie or Otto about Relationship Coaching by calling (614) 568-8282.
For all other inquiries, contact us by email.

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