Yours, Mine and Ours...parenting your blended family

"She likes 'our' kids more than she likes my older kids."

I'll never forget the day Bill and Sue's appointment started with that phrase. I could see the disconnect

in this couple's body language and hear the frustration in Bill's voice. Since that day I learned this is a common theme in many stepcouple relationships. What lies beneath Bill seemed resentful that his wife interacted differently with his older kids from his previous marriage. Sue admitted that she got more frustrated with the older boys. There were multiple reasons (which we would cover later), my initial push was for this couple to hear each other's perspective. Keeping in mind that anger comes from a deeper feeling of hurt or fear, we began to explore Bill's feelings. We discovered he took every one of Sue's critiques of the boys' behavior as a judgment of his parenting. "I feel like I failed every time you tell me what my guys did wrong." After processing that thought more, Sue told him she's just sharing how the day went and that it's not necessarily about his parenting. His boys, being teens, were definitely pushing more boundaries than their shared kids (ages 6 and 4), so of course he would hear more about what they were doing. When asked if Sue thought he was a good dad, she immediately responded,"Yes, he's a great dad! It is one of the things I loved about him from the start. It's just that I think he lets his boys get away with things I won't let 'our' kids get away with." The A-HA moment Here's where things get interesting for stepcouples. When you have "yours, mine and ours" kids, there will be some differences. (Warning: Some of these points may sound harsh, but if I'm going to help you overcome your challenges I need to be really honest.) 1.Stepparents will not love your kids from a previous marriage the same as their own birth kids. When a woman carries a child for 9 months, gives birth and then nurtures that baby, there is a special bond that forms. The same goes for dads and bonding! Birth parents are connected to their child from day one. They nurture them, watch them grow and celebrate milestones along the way. Stepparents come in later in the child's life. While they may like or even love your child, they don't necessarily feel the same way about your child. They can't! They haven't been there from day one to build that bond. Does that mean stepparents can't bond with their stepchild? Of course not! They will have a different kind of bond than they do with their own birth children. It's neither bad nor good, it just is. 2. Your approach to parenting will be different

Just as with any couple who begins to parent together, you'll find things that are "deal breakers" for you that may not be for your spouse. Different childhoods, life experiences, and parenting styles can lead to arguments if not sorted through. 3. Perso