It’s a case of yours, mine, and ours. Stepfamilies can be a unique mix of his children, her children, and even a new baby that comes after the second marriage. Having a baby is already full of different emotions. Adding in the elements of a stepfamily can make things a little more complicated. How will everyone feel about this new addition? In some cases, children may be leery, but this baby also may be a way to bring everyone together.
If you are bringing a new baby into your stepfamily, here are some tips to making a smooth transition from his and hers to ours:
Make the announcement at an event
Once you find out you are pregnant, figure out a way to celebrate this new addition! Gather the entire family together and make it an event of breaking the news. Make it a fun memory that everyone can feel a part of. The more fun, the better. The news of a new baby into your blended family may be hard to swallow at first, but a fun reveal will definitely make it memorable.
Address any jealousies
Your children may already feel a little stepped on with this new marriage—as in not as much attention, not as much privileges as the other kids, etc. Their world has already changed quite a bit, so more change can just add to the scariness. The idea of adding in a new baby may make them jealous of all the excitement and attention the baby will get, taking it away from them. Notice how your children act when you talk about the new baby. Are they passive or angry? Talk to them about their feelings, and try to help alleviate any fears they may have.
Give everyone a job on the baby’s birth day
When the baby is born, it will be exciting but also worrisome. This is when the family is about to change. Giving each person in the family a “birth day” job will help direct everyone’s energies and help the whole family to focus on togetherness. Two kids could share picture taking duties after the baby is born, another child can massage mom’s feet, one can be in charge of carrying needed supplies to the room, another child could pick out and deliver flowers to the room. Set it all up beforehand so everyone has something to look forward to on the big day.
Find ways to bond as a new family unit
At times the family may feel fragmented, especially if his children are going to their mom’s for a while, and then if her children are headed to their dad’s for the holidays. Sometimes all the children—except the new baby—may be away. It may feel hard to feel bonded with everyone at the same time. But being a complete unit and connecting together is vital to the success of your family. Stay connected even when apart; create family traditions perhaps outside of regular holiday times; have dinner together when possible; find things you all like to do together, where you can also bring a baby. Be sure to document these times together with photos and frame a few around the house.
Use names that reinforce connection
Obviously, this new baby is the half-sibling of the other children; plus if there are “hers” and “his” children, then there are stepsisters and stepbrothers. Try to shy away from using “half” or “step” so much. Technically those names are correct, but they don’t really describe what you are trying to say. Say “sister” or “brother” instead. Those direct names help to reinforce connection.
Help each child bond with the baby one-on-one
If you have small children, they will probably naturally gravitate towards the baby. They can help by bringing diapers and holding the baby for short periods of time. Middle school aged children can go a step further and feed and tend to the baby while you make dinner, for example. Teenagers or adult children can even babysit the baby. The more time they can have one-on-one, the more likely they will bond with the baby. Be sure to point out that they are a great older sibling for the baby, and that they are vital to the family.