Jealousy is one of the biggest problems in a blended family. Learning how to deal with all of the different forms of jealousy which might arise in your new family is not only important it is vital to the success of your blended family. There can be jealousy between siblings and jealousy between step parent and step child. So here's some help on how to turn jealousy inside out in a blended family.
1. Maintain Communication
If you make time and communicate your feelings, it will help keep those feelings of jealousy at bay. It is vital that the parents come together as a team and establish some ground rules before bringing the outline of the ground rules to present to the children.
2. Be Consistent
Sibling rivalry takes on a whole new meaning when it comes to step siblings. When my husband and I announced we were getting married, his youngest and my eldest had a terrible, violent fight. We were caught off guard and overwhelmed. We began to wonder if we were making a mistake. Once we created some family rules and established how to be in a blended family, we were able to create consistency for our children. We had no idea whether or not to only make the children who were at home adhere to rules that applied specifically to them. We decided that would create jealousy. The solution we came to was to lay down the law and stick to it. No favoritism, despite the fact you might see one child more than another.
3. Have Frequent Family Meetings
The family meeting is a great way to help the children feel like they are a part of something bigger than just themselves. This is a great opportunity to talk about house rules and budgets. Family meetings are a common tool we use in helping divorcing families move forward instead of looking backward.
4. Be Aware
Pay close attention to everyone's behavior. Suddenly having to share space with someone you barely know can cause children to get territorial. If you have no choice but to make step children share a room, then try to find them their own space. Be respectful of this space and make sure everyone in the house is respectful of it, as well.
And while you might want to encourage family time when you have a weekend-only child coming into the home, it can come off as smothering. It's good to do things together as a family, but it's just as important to encourage time apart as well. Set aside some alone time during visits.
5. Show Love
It's very important for both parents to try and show lots of love to each child in the home. Even if you're not feeling a deep bond, a child needs to know the people in their life care about them. You don't need to lie, but you do need to be kind and aware; do not show favoritism. Remember, we love people because of who we are not because of who they are or how they are behaving.
6. Don't Monopolize Time.
Yes, you might be newlyweds, but to your spouse's children you're just some new person in the house who's taking attention away from them. Be mindful, and openly encourage one-on-one time between parent and child. You'll have time to reconnect with your spouse. It's important a child understands that you are not trying to replace a parent, and you're not trying to take away any special moments with a parent.
All in all, keeping jealousy at bay can be achieved with plenty of communication and awareness. Know when someone is feeling neglected and when to step back. Be consistent and don't show any sort of favoritism to anyone. Do all of this and you should be able to keep those jealous feelings at bay.