These days, most of us understand that happily ever after doesn’t always happen according to a specific timeline or series of events. Sometimes, life likes to mix things up a bit.
As a result, it’s possible that before you found your current partner, one or both of you already had other children. Maybe you’ve been doing the single parent thing for a while, without that other parental figure in the picture at all, or perhaps you’ve been trading off weekends for years. Whatever the case may be, you’ve now started the work of blending together your new family.
Which includes this new little one you’ve welcomed into your life.
The good news is that blended families are pretty common these days, so your older children and stepchildren likely aren’t the only kids they know who are welcoming a new brother or sister in the midst of a blending family. But even given that, there can sometimes be growing pains that accompany adding into that blended family.
While your little one may have been loved and adored by all during those early newborn days, as the months go by and your baby takes up more of your (and your partner’s) time, it’s more common for older children to start struggling with feelings of being left out or left behind.
How you address that could play a big role in the sibling relationship these kids will all have in the years to come.
With younger children, finding ways to include them (and making time to spend with them one on one) can sometimes make a big difference. Play up the big brother or big sister role by asking them to help with smaller tasks, like bringing you diapers or putting socks on your littlest. Then, heap on the praise and tell them again and again what a great big brother or sister they are—and always be quick to acknowledge how much your baby smiles and laughs whenever his or her older sibling is around.
With older kids (those approaching the pre-teen and teenage years) finding ways to create one on one time (sans baby) may be even more important. These older kids are more likely to struggle with the shifting dynamics of your growing family, and to feel as though they are being replaced or left behind. If you want them to have a good relationship with their new siblings, you have to first work hard to ensure they know no such replacing is going on—which means prioritizing that one-on-one time whenever possible.
The dynamics of blended families can sometimes be complicated, and there is no one size fits all approach. But moving forward with a heart open to the potential complications, and empathy for the struggles your older children may be experiencing, can help.
If you ever find yourself feeling at a loss for how to deal with those struggles, there are always family counselors available who may be able to help seek out other solutions.
Written by Leah Campbell, infertility advocate, adoptive mama, writer and editor. Find me @sifinalaska on Twitter.
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general informational basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright Health & Parenting Ltd 2016. All rights reserved.