If you ask me, one of the biggest blended family problems is figuring out how to avoid taking sides between kids. As much as you TRY to think of all the children as “our kids,” when it comes to fights, it’s really easy to start looking at them as “yours” versus “mine.” Let me tell you, though, this is a surefire way to cause incredible tension in your relationship. It’s also guaranteed to cause issues with the children.
So how to you tackle one of the hardest blended family problems and avoid taking sides between the kids? Honestly, I’m still trying to figure it out! However, I’ve come up with some tips that I’m trying to remember to follow more often myself. Hopefully they’ll help you too!
How to Avoid Taking Sides Between Kids and Prevent Blended Family Problems
- Get used to thinking of them as “our kids” during happy times. Start thinking of all the children as an “our kids” unit as early as possible, when things are typically still rosy. Bond with your step-children early on. If you’re considering them “our kids” when the going is good, you’re more likely to carry that over to the more trying times.
- Decide if the fight REALLY needs your intervention. I think I mentioned this before, but my friend (who happens to be the mom of one of Jacob’s friends) has the best theory on fights between kids. If no one is bleeding or absolutely hysterically bawling, let them figure it out for themselves. Their fight will likely end quickly. Your fight with the other parent will carry on longer. If it’s just a minor squabble, stay out of it. Otherwise, you’re setting yourselves up for a major fight of your own.
- Treat them as a unit when appropriate. If it’s easy to see that both (or all) of the kids are acting up, speak to them as a unit. If they’re both running amok and acting like lunatics in the grocery store, tell them BOTH to knock it off at the same time, issuing a general group warning. Example: “If you don’t stop running around like lunatics, we’re not going for ice-cream after this.”
- Get both sides of the story for yourself. Don’t send your significant other off to ask his child’s side of the story while you get your child’s. Sit them both down, flip a coin to determine who goes first, then make sure each child has a chance to tell his or her side completely. Then get the other side. Do not interrupt or allow interruptions. Save your questions for the end.
- Don’t accuse anyone of lying. You know in your heart that your child is telling the truth because you know his “tells.” He strongly believes that his child never lies. You both know that ONE of the kids has embellished the story to make himself look like the victim, yet you refuse to acknowledge that it could be your child. However, if you accuse his child as being the liar, all pandemonium will break loose and vice-versa. See if there is evidence to support either side. If not, move on to the next step.
- Call a time out. Give the kids a break from each other for a few minutes (or even hours!). When I was growing up and my brother ticked me off, I took a break from him. I went in my room and did my own thing. He went in his room and did his thing. When we got bored of being alone, we went back to playing together nicely. Then we got into another fight and started the whole process over again. Which brings me to the final point:
- Accept that fights are a normal part of a sibling relationship. Think of fights between the kids as a sign that they are accepting each other as siblings. Brothers and sisters fight. It’s normal and natural. If you weren’t a blended family, would you end up fighting with each other just because your kids got into a fight?
While this is still going to be one of the toughest blended family problems that you face, it is possible to avoid taking sides between kids. Remember, for better or worse, you’re all part of one big family. Sometimes it will be happy, sometimes it won’t. That’s how it works in any family.
Do you have any tips on how to conquer other blended family problems? Do you have experiences in avoiding taking sides between kids? Share them in the comments!