The Role of Extended Family in the Step-Family

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By Guest Blogger, Jessica Mathis.

I was 19 when my parents divorced. The fact that I was older, though, didn’t make it any easier. I harbored resentment and anger when both of my parents remarried within a year. Not only did I have to contend with the new stepparents, I suddenly had inherited two more families, full of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. I felt obligated to like them, even love them. Despite my fears that it would be difficult to integrate myself into their lives, my new extended families, on both my stepmom and stepdad’s side, felt otherwise. They welcomed me in with open arms; I wasn’t treated differently. To them, I was already their family by blood.

I realized that this was the same pattern that my whole family had followed when two of my uncles divorced and re-married, resulting in blended families for both of them. Their stepchildren were eagerly accepted into our homes. My parents and grandparents would excitedly hug them and tell them they were glad to see them. My aunts and uncles would ask them questions about their life, just like they did with me and my brothers. Everyone had a good time together, laughing and eating as a family. It seemed as though we never skipped a beat with the stepchildren.

Here are some things to remember about children and extended family:

  • Kids thrive on love and security, no matter what the situation or environment is.
  • Children don’t need special treatment as the stepchild; they need the same treatment as the other children in order to feel welcome.
  • The extended family needs to be the one to break the ice, not the child (regardless of age).
  • Inclusion, not forced participation, works best with kids.
  • If children seem disinterested or uncomfortable, cutting them off completely will likely isolate them. Continue to have the extended family talk to them and offer to include them; the child may just need time to warm up.

If your family or your partner’s family is not the warmest group of people, and you feel it may be hard to get them involved, here are some things you can try:

  • Explain calmly and non-defensively that you love your step-children and want them to be a part of the whole family.
  • Arrange activities together, like going to the park or seeing a movie. Once everyone is more comfortable, you can engage in more intimate or personal get-togethers.
  • Facilitate a game, sport, or other team-building activity that encourages interaction and will make everyone feel more comfortable.
  • Set an example in front of the family by showing affection and love to your step-children.

There is nothing special to remember or do when it comes to stepchildren and their role with extended family. Everyone needs to feel loved and accepted; this goes especially for children as their self-esteem and character is developing. Your own parents, siblings, nieces, and nephews don’t have to do anything out of the ordinary to give the stepchildren that emotional care. You and everyone else should simply treat them with love and kindness, exactly as you treat your own child, and they will feel much more comfortable with their new family.

  • Hi Kim. Just to let you know that this blog was by a young lady, Jessica who grew up in a stepfamily. She wanted to share her perspective as to what it’s like for a child to come into a new family. So much of my personal experience is as a mom and stepmom. I like to get first hand stories and share.
    Your stepkids are really lucky that your family accepted them early. It makes a huge difference in the kind of marriage you have.
    Extended family play a key role in how successful your marriage is and your level of happiness.
    Thanks Kim for sharing your success.

  • I am so happy to hear that you were always welcomed with open arms into your blended family, Claudette! I’m also fortunate that my parents accept my stepkids as part of the family and make them feel included in everything.

  • If I had known or understood the impact my divorce would have on my child I probably would have re thought the entire situation. Even though we do have a great relationship. I believe there are some harbored resentment and you cannot take back what was done.

    • Linda, we don’t know what we don’t know right? The next step is to share this experience with others so that you can enlightened those close to you. When we divorce, we don’t always think through long term other that stopping the pain. There is never an easy solution to these types of emotions.

  • I love that you offer manageable solutions to your readers. Real-life tips and suggestions are always so helpful.

    • Thanks Courtney. What works for one person may not work for another. That’s why by sharing ideas, it may just be what that person needed to hear.
      Plus, it can take, weeks, months or even years before someone says “OH, I remember reading something somewhere about relationships and communication. Let’s try that solution and see what happens.”
      Always enjoy your comments Courtney

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

    Tags

    blended family, building relationships, divorce, extended family, self-esteem, stepdaughter, stepfamilies

    About the Author

    CLAUDETTE CHENEVERT, aka The Stepmom Coach, works with women as they struggle to create a cohesive family life. As a speaker, author and stepfamily professional, Claudette mentors and guides stepmothers through the process of establishing a harmonious and thriving home life for their families. Her newest title, “The Stepmom’s Book of Boundaries,” is now available on Amazon.com and elsewhere. Learn about her coaching practice and self-study program for stepmoms at StepmomCoach.com.

    StepmomCoach

    The original content you just enjoyed is copyright protected by The Stepmom Coach—aka Claudette Chenevert—who proudly offers information, tips, products and other resources for building better relationships “one STEP at a time” via 1:1 coaching, self-guided coursework and more. Suitability is to be determined by individual users based on their own concerns and circumstances, as The Stepmom Coach does not endorse and is not liable for opinions expressed by third parties (i.e., advertisers, affiliates, audience members, clients).


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  • Hi Kim. Just to let you know that this blog was by a young lady, Jessica who grew up in a stepfamily. She wanted to share her perspective as to what it’s like for a child to come into a new family. So much of my personal experience is as a mom and stepmom. I like to get first hand stories and share.
    Your stepkids are really lucky that your family accepted them early. It makes a huge difference in the kind of marriage you have.
    Extended family play a key role in how successful your marriage is and your level of happiness.
    Thanks Kim for sharing your success.

  • I am so happy to hear that you were always welcomed with open arms into your blended family, Claudette! I’m also fortunate that my parents accept my stepkids as part of the family and make them feel included in everything.

  • If I had known or understood the impact my divorce would have on my child I probably would have re thought the entire situation. Even though we do have a great relationship. I believe there are some harbored resentment and you cannot take back what was done.

    • Linda, we don’t know what we don’t know right? The next step is to share this experience with others so that you can enlightened those close to you. When we divorce, we don’t always think through long term other that stopping the pain. There is never an easy solution to these types of emotions.

  • I love that you offer manageable solutions to your readers. Real-life tips and suggestions are always so helpful.

    • Thanks Courtney. What works for one person may not work for another. That’s why by sharing ideas, it may just be what that person needed to hear.
      Plus, it can take, weeks, months or even years before someone says “OH, I remember reading something somewhere about relationships and communication. Let’s try that solution and see what happens.”
      Always enjoy your comments Courtney

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}
    • Home
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    • Blog
    • /
    • The Role of Extended Family in the Step-Family
  • Hi Kim. Just to let you know that this blog was by a young lady, Jessica who grew up in a stepfamily. She wanted to share her perspective as to what it’s like for a child to come into a new family. So much of my personal experience is as a mom and stepmom. I like to get first hand stories and share.
    Your stepkids are really lucky that your family accepted them early. It makes a huge difference in the kind of marriage you have.
    Extended family play a key role in how successful your marriage is and your level of happiness.
    Thanks Kim for sharing your success.

  • I am so happy to hear that you were always welcomed with open arms into your blended family, Claudette! I’m also fortunate that my parents accept my stepkids as part of the family and make them feel included in everything.

  • If I had known or understood the impact my divorce would have on my child I probably would have re thought the entire situation. Even though we do have a great relationship. I believe there are some harbored resentment and you cannot take back what was done.

    • Linda, we don’t know what we don’t know right? The next step is to share this experience with others so that you can enlightened those close to you. When we divorce, we don’t always think through long term other that stopping the pain. There is never an easy solution to these types of emotions.

  • I love that you offer manageable solutions to your readers. Real-life tips and suggestions are always so helpful.

    • Thanks Courtney. What works for one person may not work for another. That’s why by sharing ideas, it may just be what that person needed to hear.
      Plus, it can take, weeks, months or even years before someone says “OH, I remember reading something somewhere about relationships and communication. Let’s try that solution and see what happens.”
      Always enjoy your comments Courtney

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

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