You might think that when two people with adult children enter into a remarriage arrangement, blended family struggles would be non-existent. Not necessarily. You might think their children would be supportive of the remarriage, pleased that their parent has a second chance at a happy and loving relationship. Not always. You would think that there would be fewer issues between step kids and step parents. Not hardly.
Expectations for an all-adult blended family
When people with adult children from previous relationships marry and form an adult blended family, they generally have an entirely reasonable expectation they will be free to concentrate on each other and simply enjoy being together. They have already raised their own children, and look forward to a relationship free from the stress and tension they might have expected if they were raising step kids. In many cases, this sweet model matches reality; often, though, achieving the happy adult blended family scenario takes time, understanding, and a lowering of expectations.
What is the problem with adults kids in a blended family
What, you may ask, is their problem? What do grown children have against their parent being happy? Why aren’t they pleased you have found a new relationship and someone to share a lonely life with? You might expect grown children would be so involved in their own busy lives and their own growing families that they would feel relief at not having to worry about your being alone. Well, their problem is probably the same as it might be if they were still living at home.
Children in a blended family are often afraid their parent will choose their new spouse over them; that things will change in ways they do not like; that they are no longer number one in their parent’s life. Adult children of a blended family are, after all, still the children of their parents, and sometimes revert to childish behavior.
Grown up accommodations
Even as our adult children build their own lives, choosing a mate, having children and perhaps even moving far away, all seemingly without a glance backwards, in their heart of hearts they expect their parents to remain the same as they have always been. The very idea of their widowed or divorced parent being sexually active is alarming in and of itself! Acknowledge and try to understand their resistance to your making life changes which no longer revolve around them. When they are ready, adult step kids will accept that we do not seek approval for our life decisions any more than they themselves sought approval for their own relationship or career decisions. Savvy step parents can help make this new awareness and acceptance easier.
As a step parent of adult step kids, your objectivity may be of some help. Tension and disappointment often results when the parents expect everyone will magically and immediately bond into one happy family. The truth is, many step kids are simply not ready to welcome the remarriage or their new stepparent with open arms. When you approach this new relationship with your step kids, try to treat them in the same pleasant, courteous and respectful manner you would welcome a new associate at work. Adopt a patient wait and see attitude, acknowledging that friendship and trust takes time. And, as with a new associate in the workplace, even if you do not become fast friends, accept that you will still be able to work congenially and satisfyingly well together.
So, if you and your adult step kids have a slow start, be patient. Be wise. Be understanding. Be philosophical. But mostly, just be patient.
Filed under: Blended and step family
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