Second, you're right. Entering a family with an established dynamic can be tricky, especially if you're a relative stranger to them. When it comes to relationships, human beings find security in embracing the familiar, so it's easy for family members to resent the newcomer, no matter how fabulous he or she may be. My suggestions? Treat your new stepchildren the way you would want to be treated if you were in their same situation. Here are a few ideas.
1. Be aware that transitions are, in fact, difficult. The new couple may be thrilled with one another, but children especially adult children often feel threatened by the prospect of change.
2. Be friendly, but don't overwhelm everyone with exaggerated friendliness. Also, don't expect immediate friendliness in return especially at first. Lower your expectations. Low expectations are the key to happiness in this life.
3. Be patient. Give yourself and your stepchildren time to get to know one another as friends before you self-identify as a family.
4. Be open about the situation. If it feels like a good idea to verbally acknowledge that change is hard but that you want to make things work for everyone, then do it.
5. Be willing to share. Don't put your new spouse in the position of having to choose between you and the kids. (BTW, your stepchildren shouldn't force Dad to choose, either, but you can't control what they're going to do.) Do things as a couple and even as a blended family, of course, but you and your spouse should feel free to spend alone time with your own kids and grandkids (if you have them).
I hope this helps. Good luck!
Dear Ann Cannon • I just found out my wife gave my lucky shirt to DI. Why is it my lucky shirt, you ask? Because every time I wore it this year, the Jazz won. "Upset" doesn't begin to describe how I feel right now. What should I do?
Formerly a Shirt, But Now a Skin
Dear Formerly • Um. Yeah. I hate to say it, but this is bad news. REALLY bad news. I suggest you do the following.
1. Alert the team about this unfortunate development.
2. Then arrange for you and your wife to enter the Federal Witness Protection Program. Immediately.
MEMO TO UTAH JAZZ: Hey, guys! It was fun while it lasted!
Dear Ann Cannon • I had a falling out with a friend last year. I tried to apologize, but she just avoided me. A few months ago I ran into her at the grocery store. As I was going through the checkout, I caught her hiding so she wouldn't have to go through the line with me. I felt completely betrayed, but I'm not sure if the friendship is worth it at this point. We are adults, and I'm trying to at least make small talk like the mere acquaintances we are now. Help?
Grocery Store Pariah
Dear Pariah • Shifts in friendships can be unsettling especially if you're the type of person who values long-term relationships. Sometimes those shifts, while changing the nature of the friendship, can make it even more rewarding. But sometimes you have to let go, which you seem to have recognized in this particular case. Honor the friendship for what it was and move on. Meanwhile, kudos to you for behaving like a grownup instead of hiding behind an endcap of Doritos.
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