Your Stepchild Feel At Home
By Lisa Cohn
new husband and I have 3 children between us. I have a 13-year-old
son and 10-year-old daughter. He has a 9-year-old daughter.
live in a small, 3-bedroom house. My daughter has the smallest of
the rooms. When his daughter started coming to our house for visits,
the girls got along great. They put up the tent and camped out in
the living room. Now that has gotten old, and we are running into
an issue about where everyone should sleep. My daughter is getting
very defensive about sharing her room, her bed, etc... There have
been times when my husband slept on the sofa, his daughter in my
daughter's bed and my daughter with me.
are looking to get a bigger place so the girls have two beds in
one room, but not sure how to fix this for now. I understand that
for nine or so years my daughter had her own stuff, and now she
feels forced to share
her "space" every other weekend. I don't want his daughter
to feel like an outsider, but part of a family.
is a tricky issue. In the beginning, future stepsiblings often get
along very well, says Susan Wisdom, a licensed professional counselor
and co-author of Stepcoupling. But once their parents
get married, reality sets in and theres no way out,
she says. Suddenly, former friends may view each other as intrudersespecially
when they have to share space.
its best for stepsiblings to have their own rooms, especially
when theyre teenagers, says Wisdom. If space is limited, be
sure to set aside physical space for each childs clothing
and books and places to do homework and talk privately on the phone,
she says. For now, Wisdom suggests, you might provide a fold-up
cot for your stepdaughter in your daughters room.
notes that such stepfamily situations can be especially challenging
for adults. Its common for parents to feel protective of their
biological children and to harbor resentment.
a stepcouple, work on developing a team and united front,
for stuff like Your daughter gets more than my daughter,
or It's not fair that my daughter loses her bed when your
daughter visits, Wisdom says. As a couple, you might
want to invite the children to help solve the problemunless
theres too much hostility among them. Have family meeting
and ask the kids, What can we do to make everyone happier?
in my own stepfamily, we played a lot of musical beds
when the children were young. The kids liked sleeping with their
biological parents once a week. I think the solution you have come
up with (you sleeping with your daughter, and your stepdaughter
in your daughters bed) isnt a bad oneas long as
everyone feels good about it and understands its temporary.
our book, we describe one stepfamily with a small house and four
kids. The kids rotate bedrooms every six months or so. This way,
everyone gets to sleep in the biggest bedroom. You mentioned that
your daughter has the smallest room. Could she and your stepdaughter
move into a bigger room every few months? In a bigger room, its
possible they could create more of their own separate spaces or
even put up a divider in the middle of the room.
remember: Its important to be creative in a stepfamily and
to encourage all family members to solve such problems together.
Experts and stepfamily members often say that kids raised in successful
stepfamilies grow up to be more tolerant and flexiblein part
because they learned how to cope with such situations! (For more
information about that topic, click on www.stepfamilyadvice.com/articles.htm
and read The Good News About Stepfamilies.)
let me know how you work this out this tough situation.
writer Lisa Cohn is co-author of "One Family, Two Family, New
Family: Stories and Advice for Stepfamilies" and co-host of
Stepfamily Talk Radio. For more information, visit www.stepfamilyadvice.com