When my husband and I first moved in together and combined both of our families together which was his two kids and my three kids it was great at first, but then it quickly wore off because my kids had rules and structure in place where his didn’t. So there were a lot of not sharing, hitting and name calling going on which really needed to stop. I had a very hard time with this because his children were used to not really having any rules and that everything they touched became theirs and that they didn’t have to share anything that was theirs. And they were allowed to literally fight with one another and whatever they wanted was given to them. My stepdaughter would constantly talk down to her brother like she was the parent, which bothered me a lot. Anytime my stepdaughter would have a meltdown, my husband would cave into her and reward her for her bad behavior. It just felt like there was no end to the drama. So we sat down after one hellish weekend with the kids and decided to put “House Rules” in place and I talked to him about how all of these rules applied to “all” of the children, not just mine and that he would have to be the “bad” guy sometimes with his kids. He agreed and we came up with a list so that the next weekend we could have a “family” meeting and go over the new list of rules and consequences to those rules in case they were broken. The first three years of our marriage was pretty rough and very hard on us because of the rules and how his kids didn’t want rules because there were no rules before I came into the picture. At the ex-wife’s house, there was no rules or structure over there, so it made it even harder when the kids came over to our house. Sometimes I don’t even know how we got through it all but we did.
Here are some ways to break away from guilt parenting:
- Establish Rules and Boundaries of the house together
- Establish Consequences in case the rules are broken
- Chores list of either 1 or 2 things for the stepchildren. Do not make it any more than two chores for them especially if they are only there every other weekend. If they are there 50% of the time, then you should evenly divide up the chores with all of the children.
- Stop buying toys every weekend, only buy gifts for special occasions and holidays; let them earn what they want. This also teaches them responsibility too.
Once you go through this list, the next following time you have the stepchildren and all of the children are present, have a family meeting. And go through the “house” rules together. Take turns going through each rule that way all of the children know you made these rules up together and they are not just because the Stepmom said so. Another suggestion is the Father disciplines his own children and you discipline yours until good relationships are established with the stepparents.
Guilt parenting syndrome needs to be addressed and talked about and dealt with in order to have a successful blended family. Do not let it tear your family apart. You can overcome it early on and use the steps above to help change things around. If you manage to hang in there and change your parenting style and stay married, maybe one day, when you least expect it, you will receive an unexpected, “thank you” for doing all of the heavy lifting of parenting or you might not receive a thank you, at least you know you did the right thing for all of your children.
Collins; AP 2004, No Toys at Toys R’ Us. Photograph viewed 12 November 2015