Step-Family Advice - Ten Surefire Ways to Ensure That Your Blended Family Does Not Gel!

Congratulations! After years of emotional anguish and heartache, you have endured the breakup of your marriage, suffered the humiliations and disappointments of dating and have had the good fortune to find the person of your dreams. You have made the complicated decision to remarry and are about to embark on the blissful path of blending two families together.
I know. You and your spouse envision a new life that will rival the Brady Bunch, and you have all the answers. I am not saying that I doubt your capabilities for even a second. But if you will indulge me for a brief instance, I'd like to share ten surefire ways that will absolutely guarantee that your blended family will not jell!
1. You have found the person of your dreams. You want to shout out your good fortune for all the world to hear! Insist that your children be equally joyful. Remind them regularly how lucky they are that they have a new step-family. After all, two families are better than one, right?
2. Immediately immerse both families in joint activities. Tell them that it's not a good idea for the children to have any alone time with their own parent because it will delay their adjustment to the blended family. Tell them it's ridiculous if they have any complaints about having to include these people in their lives. After all, you made the choice to get married and you know what's best for them. Insist they will get used to this.
3. It's obvious when you blend two sets of very different people that they will often have two very different ways of doing things and two very different points of view. While it's insensitive to make fun of the others, you and yours can certainly set the record straight that your way is superior.
4. It is very likely that all the kids got away with murder while their parents were preoccupied with their divorces and building their social lives. Now is the time to enforce rigid, heavy duty rules and demands. It is okay for you to be the disciplinarian of your new step-children. Loudly show them who is boss from the get-go. These kids have to know you mean business. If they throw out the tired line that you are not their parent, they should be chastised and grounded.
5. Make it clear that their new step-parent has many attributes far superior to your ex-spouse. Although you know better than to blatantly voice complaints about your ex, you and your beloved should be able to roll your eyes and exchange knowing looks to get the message across to the children that their other parent is a loser.
6. Speaking of your ex, of course you can expect him/her to be graciously thrilled for your happiness. It's only right, then, to expect them to accommodate their lives and schedules to make your new life easier. If you change plans at the last minute or have to cancel completely, heck, now is the time for them to be understanding and cooperative. After all, this is a special time for you.
7. Your children undoubtedly witnessed you and your ex at a very unhappy time in your lives. Now is the time to show them the role model of a loving couple. Of course, sordidly provocative behavior is totally out of line, but what's the harm of showing the kids how loving and affectionate you are, with lingering kisses and playful pats on the rump?
8. Insist that both sets of children share their personal belongings. If you are to be a family, it's selfish not to graciously offer all that you have. If the visiting children riffle through their things a bit, or even break a possession or two, it's offensive to complain. These things happen.
9. It is not necessary for the visiting kids to have their own space, is it? After all, they are only with you a handful of days each month. They won't mind if you move the clutter out of that extra room in the basement or by the garage whenever they come to stay. Whoever said that each child should have his own personal space doesn't know what they are talking about. The visiting kids won't mind living out of a suitcase or piling their belongings on a shelf. It's only for a few days, right?
10. Regularly compare each set of children to each other, and compete with your new spouse about which set of children are superior. This strategy has been designed to motivate everyone to be their best possible selves. Whoever said that this philosophy leads to hostility among the "steps" clearly does not know anything about human behavior.
It takes an enormous amount of empathy, compassion and care to meet the needs and sensitivities of children at this difficult time. A huge dose of patience and a sense of humor helps as well. I know that you recognize that following even one of the above could be a disaster! The purpose of the above is to poke fun at the challenges we all go through as step-parents and to highlight some of the issues that come up that cause tremendous stress and get in the way of our attempts to blend two very different sets of people.