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Dr. Romance Video: Parent/Stepchildren Relationships

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Ah, the ugly step parent, celebrated and villainized in fairy tales. Do you have to take on the role? "Dr. Romance" licensed psychotherapist and author, says you don't, and shows you how to manage to be the kind of step-parent that causes your children will say "My step-parent was the best thing that ever happened to our family."

Dr. Romance’s 4 Tips to Smoother Stepparenting

1. Give your blended family a chance to bond. Don’t worry if everyone doesn’t settle in right away; bonding takes time. Hopefully, you all got to know each other before you moved in together, but the transition to living comfortably together can take time.

2. Have family meetings weekly. Give everyone (kids, too) a chance to share how they feel, what they like and don’t like, and ask them to share both positive and negative opinions. Invite suggestions about how to make things better. Shared times, such as mealtimes, are important — but each person needs a break, too. Don’t allow the schedule to be too busy — plan some time off.

3. Get on the same parenting page. Mom and Dad need to work out parenting methods, rewards, punishments, chores, allowances, bedtimes, homework, etc. Each of your single-parent families is unique, and everyone has to adjust to change. Transition is much easier if the parents are in agreement. If something happens you haven’t discussed, just defer to one parent, and work it out later. If you allow the kids to create discord between you, they’ll jump on it right away, and make your lives miserable.

4. If you have shared custody with one or more outside parents, resolve any conflicts with them right away – ex-spouse struggles can become disasters. You’ll all be connected for life. Help the children transition from one household to another by “debriefing” when they come home. “How was your visit?” Then talk about the system at your house.

Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting about the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage will give you more information and strategies for creating a happy family life.

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