“There’s a creep factor when all of a sudden some guy is coming into the house.” This quote by Paul Lee, a stepfather interviewed in the Salt Lake Tribune’s recent article on stepfamilies, perfectly describes the uncomfortable situation many new stepfamilies find themselves in. How do you navigate the issue of combining a group of people of different ages, genders, and genes into one family under one roof? Here are 3 tips that might help:
Having distinct boundaries is an absolute MUST in a stepfamily. Children and adults alike need privacy. Bedroom doors should be knocked on before entered, parents and children should have separate bathrooms and sleeping spaces, and everyone should be FULLY clothed when walking around the house-that does not mean it is okay to walk around in a towel or robe. Everyone in the house should be aware of and respect these rules so that everyone can feel comfortable being at home.
In order to remove “the creep factor”, a relationship needs to be developed. It is important for stepparents and their stepchildren, and stepsiblings to spend time together. This doesn’t mean you have to force one-on-one time before family members are ready, but everyone needs the opportunity to get to know each other before they can be expected to relax and feel at ease.
Like the Tribune article states, “children [have] important things to say.” It is essential that respectful, open communication be allowed in a stepfamily. Children go through a range of emotions when trying to adjust to being in a stepfamily, and accepting new people in their lives as family members. It should be okay, if not encouraged, for them to talk to their parents about any discomfort or other feelings they may be experiencing, even if what they have to say is difficult to hear.
Read the Salt Lake Tribune article “Communication, clear roles help stepfamilies bond, Utah study
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