Tips for Summer with Stepkids

Summer and Your Stepfamily

Stepfamilies are like snowflakes, no two are exactly the same.

Since I am a custodial step-parent, my perspective is from that point of view. My stepkids live with me full time, but that isn't the case for many step-mothers. Many of you are probably spending a lot more time with your stepkids than you are used to doing. This post is dedicated to those of you that might be experiencing a difficult transition from part-time to full-time stepparent. Here are my suggestions for an enjoyable extended stay for your stepfamily:

1. Before the visit, talk to you spouse about your hopes, expectations and concerns. Doing this before issues arise will minimize defensiveness and help your spouse see that you are honestly trying to prepare for a positive experience. Ask him/her for their hopes, concerns, etc also.

2. Develop the house rules with your spouse before the visit begins. Establish individual responsibilities for all of the children, residential and non-residential alike. This will help the non-residential kids feel like a part of the family. If you have teens, set limits together for curfew, standards of respectful conduct, etc. Doing so together will help present a united front to the kids and will give the stepparent something to fall back on (these are the house rules, not my rules).

3. Don't attempt to entertain your stepkids all summer. Non-residential parents and step parents tend to try to hard to make the visit fun. Instead focus on building an atmosphere of family. Schedule in some fun activities, but don't over-do-it. Share your ideas with the kids and put them up on a calendar so they can see what to expect.

4. Give all the kids an opportunity to express their own expectations, hopes and concerns. If you don't see them very often you may want to check-in with them about their interests so you can be sure to address those during the visit.

5. Provide a permanent place for your stepkids' belongings as well as a place they can go to when they want to be alone. You may not have room for them to have their own bedroom, but you can at least help them identify a place they can retreat. Also, providing them a place to store their belongings will help them feel like a member of the family and not just a visitor living out of a suitcase.

Of course, many of you may have your own tips and tricks for making the summer an enjoyable experience, so please share them here!

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