How to Set Ground Rules
So how is your clan going to function? Well, since conventional "family rules" are out, you'll have to make some new ones. Experts say that clear, all-inclusive plans are necessary to make a stepfamily work. Who spends time with whom, and when? What rules apply to everybody; what rules don't? What is everybody's role in the family? What are the budgeting/disciplinary/recreational systems?
"The couple needs to establish ground rules, like a business plan, and both partners have to agree on those rules and schedules," says Dr. Lofas. "A common error is when the couple has no rules at all. But every one of us has internal rules, and if a situation doesn't function as you want, you get uncomfortable. Time should be allotted for the parent and children, and for the couple."
"Communication is so important," stresses Dr. Engel. "It's essential that the couple talk together on how the household will operate. The natural parent should provide the information to his or her own children on house rules, so that it doesn't look like the 'bad stepparent' taking over." You may experience initial