Siblings, whether they are biological, step-siblings, half-siblings or adopted have relationships that are characterized by love, frustrations, and rivalry. In step families, relationships among siblings often change because of shifts in birth order and fluctuations in time spent together and apart.
The following tips will help you guide your children in improving their relationships with each other.
- Acceptance of the stepfamily reality is one of the keys for successful relationships among siblings. Biological parents need to emphasize unity, yet honor separateness. In other words, while it is important for all family members to develop and nurture a sense of belonging, it is also necessary to make room for the uniqueness of the situation and to allow for individuality and alliances between biological siblings. This will help the children feel safe and honored.
- Discipline. Love may not always exist between step-parents and step-children, however, all the children in the household need to be treated equally. A discipline style that is used consistently with all the children will help the children feel equal to one another and might help them develop closeness, rather than the unfortunately common resentment that preferential treatment creates.
- Family Night. Children’s ideas need to be heard and incorporated into the family night. A weekly family night will help develop a special tradition for your step-family. It is a time for children to develop closeness and to get to know one another. It can be a night devoted to discussing any concerns, using an hour glass in taking turns and equal time to speak. You can then play a game together or choose another activity that would promote closeness.
- Remember to continue to act on what’s in the best interest of your children.