If sibling rivalry is a minefield for moms, try dealing with step- or half-sibling rivalry! Bringing kids who don't know one another well under one roof can raise the tension level unbearably, say Circle of Moms members who are in the process of attempting to blend families with a new spouse.
Carie, who has two biological kids, ages two and five, as well as step kids who are five and seven, knows firsthand: "My son and [my husband's] two daughters fight [non stop]," she reports. "I'm home all day dealing with it and then it gets about ten times worse when my husband gets home and neither one of us has a clue how to handle it anymore."
Erica N. and Jennifer J. are also desperate for advice. As Erica relays, “My step son and daughter just cannot get along. He always says things like, ‘but she never gets in trouble’ or ’She’s always mean to me.” And Jennifer struggles daily with her oldest son and oldest step-daughter: "I don't want to be in the middle, so I let them try to work out the struggle. But there are days that I'm just at my wits end and I don't know how to deal with this constant struggle."
Here, Circle of Moms members who have both biological and step children share five tips on blending your families.
1. Get Support
With the potential for so many complicated emotions to emerge, Circle Moms members like Charnel H. say they’ve reached out to friends who have been there and sought advice from books. Some have turned to professional counselors for help navigating the way. In fact Charnel recommends doing so sooner rather than later, and Angel G. seconds her: "I would suggest some counseling to work out the issues kids have about this," she says. "It is important to address these issues when they are younger; as they get older it is harder to get control over."
2. Be Proactive
Lindsey D. wishes she and her husband has established house rules with her step daughter right from the start. Her husband's nine-year-old, who is jealous of her newborn hald brother and is "a terror," is no longer allowed in their house for the safety of the three-month-old baby. "My husband goes and picks her up and spends time with her away from our house," she says. "I feel bad that it has to be this way but I can't put my son in danger..."
To preempt problems like the one Lindsey's family is struggling with, Dyanne suggests holding a family meeting and laying down the house rules for the new step siblings — right from the beginning: "Sit down and have family meeting where everyone gets a chance to talk," she says. "Make a set of house rules at the meeting and the consequences, and then follow through."
3. Give the Kids Space to Work it Out
Sometimes the best way to deal with step sibling rivalry is to let the kids work it out on their own and not draw too much attention to their struggles, says Megan B., who is blending a family of two 7-year-olds, a 6-year-old, and an 18-month-old. "This may sound silly, but act like it's nothing," she says. "No matter what, don't get yourself sucked into the arguments. "When our older three get into fights we just let them be. The only time we step in is if a bad word is spoken or someone gets physically hurt. The more you try to step in the less they will learn how to deal with issues on their own."
Similarly, Dyanne H. advises moms to do away with the "step" label because it's divisive: "We also didn't do 'step brother or sisters.' They were 'brothers,' and that was that."
4. Teach Respect for Everyone's Possessions
Deidre Z. feels that it's very important that step-siblings be allowed to have (and protect) their own possessions: "You may not be able to afford having separate rooms, but they both need to be allowed to be individuals. Don't make the kids share everything."
5. Muster Your Patience
Amber urges moms to remember that it's natural for kids to feel some angst when their circumstances change and they suddenly have to contend with new siblings who are vying for their parent's attention. She found that it can take quite a while for things to calm down: "It typically can take up to three years for blended families to become close, and everyone to settle in fully," she says. "This is to be expected. Just because you are having these issues does not make you an abnormal family, or bad parents. Even siblings who aren't [in] blended families can go through the fighting stages. Just keep looking for things that can bring you all together, and make sure you are spending some quiet alone time with each child daily.
Shannon A., who brought together five step siblings when she remarried, also advises moms to hang in there, sharing the reassuring news that, "Everybody has adjusted well with such a big change in their life; it just took some time."
What advice do you have for the moms of step siblings who don't get along?
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.