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Helping Children Adjust To a New Stepfamily

In the Paramount Pictures film "Yours, Mine & Ours," a widower with eight children runs into his high school sweetheart, a widow with 10 of her own. The two rekindle their love and marry without letting their children in on the nuptials until after the fact. A culture clash ensues, and the kids soon devise a plan to sabotage the marriage. While "Yours, Mine & Ours" is a comedy, it touches on some of the real-life issues confronting stepparents and children. Bringing two families together is seldom easy; about 65 percent of remarriages involve children from the previous marriage, and 60 percent of remarriages end in divorce, according to U. Census Bureau statistics. Parents have the power to ensure that the kids know that they belong and are loved and wanted - by both parents and their new siblings. Making all of the children feel included will help foster a smooth transition. Parenting experts offer the following tips: * Be flexible. Families have different ways of doing things, and your newly blended family will need to make a lot of compromises - from choosing family activities to establishing bedtimes.

Be willing to give up some old habits. * Set new ground rules. Discuss your parenting style with your new spouse and map out a parenting strategy that would be the most appropriate for your new family. * Open the lines of communication. Include the children in family decisions. Listen to what they have to say and take their concerns seriously. * Seek creative ways to bond as a family. Have a meeting about what members of the family would like to do on a regular basis. The ideas that emerge might surprise you. * Keep your sense of humor.

The blending of families is a serious and, sometimes, delicate matter, but it helps to reflect on the lighter side of the subject. Younger children might even relate to the antics and feelings played out in "Yours, Mine & Ours." If things don't go smoothly at first, be patient. With lots of love, support and respect, your new family will only get stronger with time. - NU.


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