Like divorce, stepping into a blended family situation takes restructuring and potential hurdles to cross along the way. This new ‘permanent’ guy in their lives may now get to spend more time with your children than you do, this may have some emotional implications. Insecurities aside for a moment, at the root of the new two dad scenario (Bio Dad and Bonus Dad) is the potential for friction because up until now, Bonus Dad has just been Mom’s Boyfriend.
Most guys in that role do not have to manage the children and provide discipline, they are more inclined to play the part of the fun uncle. Fun uncle buys them movie passes, allows them extra time playing video games and junky cereal in an attempt to win their hearts. Perhaps (Bio) Dad is less likely to get the junky cereal and let them play video games all day. See the point of friction?
There are plenty of other examples but at the core, the Bonus Dad is going to wrestle with a transformation as his role evolves now that he has moved from boyfriend to stepdad. Keeping the kids top of mind and getting beyond any jealousy, as you step through this transitional period, here are a few things to consider:
- You are your kids’ biological dad and you will never be unseated from that role. If the stepdad is attempting to circumvent some establish rules or family policy address it with both your ex-wife and their stepfather together.
- Keep it on the positive. If there is something the new stepdad does right by your kids let him know, even if it is small. If it is a compliment you can share in front of the kids, even better. Be the bigger man. Always. It is putting your relationship in the right direction.
- Ask his opinion. Ultimately, you are striving for a partnership of Good Men. That said you will need to strive for the positive in this partnership with your kids’ stepfather. Ask his opinion on things, even if it is on something you don’t have a strong opinion about. The gesture shows an interest in finding a middle ground and mutual respect.
- Divide and conquer. Find out what you’re good at and offer that to the kids. You may be good at helping them with sports while he may have a knack at science and math.
- Be the solution. If you’re attempting to do the right thing and help raise your children after your divorce, good communication is not a choice- it is an obligation. Don’t like the guy? Don’t talk trash in front or behind him. It does not serve you or your kids well to try to undercut the guy, just like talking bad about your ex-wife in front of your kids does not do anything constructive. In fact, it does the opposite. Be the solution, keep the communication business-like.
By moving past the initial concern, jealousy, and emotion of this newly formed blended family, you will begin to teach your children by example rather than dwell in jealousy that does not serve you or your kids.