2nd Marriage Co-Parenting Tips w/ Judy Graybill, Step-Parent Coach
THE Amicable Divorce Expert interviews Judy Graybill, Step-Parent Coach, on the best ways to be a step-parent in a second marriage. Second marriages are tough for several reasons:
1. If the biological parents haven’t healed from their divorce, the step-parent inherits the trauma from their marriage. That trauma will play out in the co-parents’ relationship, in the co-parents’ relationship with their children, and will permeate the relationship with the step-parent and the co-parents and the children.
2. If the parenting styles of the co-parents aren’t the same, the step-parent will be caught in the disagreement over parenting styles when following the parenting style of the biological parent with whom they are in relationship.
3. If the step-parent and their biological parent spouse have different parenting styles, this becomes friction in their relationship.
4. Boundaries in parenting need to be established between the biological parent and step-parent, and the step-parent and the other biological parent.
5. Step-parents need to speak well of the other biological parent regardless of how the step-parent feels about that parent.
6. Step-parents might have to reach out to the biological parent to show support and respect for that parent. If the trauma of the divorce hasn’t been healed, this will be a very difficult step to take, but still try.
7. Keep the conversation with the other biological parent specific to co-parenting. Don’t talk about the bio parents’ relationship.
8. If there is a personality disorder with the other bio parent, the step-parent should learn about it so that they can factor in ways to communicate effectively with that parent. It’s all about the children and how best to raise them.
9. If the step-parent can remain non-judgmental about the other bio parent, that will help the step-parent work in a more conciliatory way with the other bio parent.
10. For holidays, the step-parent should learn the family traditions of the other bio parent and create other traditions that are unique to the step-parent and their step-children.
The best situation for the step-parent and co-parents is to focus on best interests of the child. This is what “best interest of the child” looks like. If there is an issue between the step-parent and co-parents over ideologies or logistics in decisions for the children, ask, “What would give the children the healthiest and happiest life? What would keep the peace and provide harmony in both households?”
The issues that ended the marriage can easily play out in co-parenting and influence the step-parent. Therapy for all three adults together can help work on the current blended parenting relationship if all parents want the relationship to work, and want to be the best parents they can be, minus the titles of biological and step. Children would like nothing more than for everyone to get along.
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