Conflict # 66 – Relationship and Rules

“Rules minus relationship equals rebellion.” – Josh McDowell

Blended families have their own unique sets of problems. One of the most common is that the step-parent attempts to exercise authority over the spouse’s children, without having formed a bond of affection, respect and trust.

A client of mine – call her “Laura” – tells me that her husband, “Gus”, has made this mistake in a big way. In one confrontation Gus and one of her two teenage sons got into a minor physical altercation, which led to her calling the police. 

Having met Gus in two couples sessions before they married, it was clear that his personality was not suited to close relationship. In fact he looked and sounded like a classic narcissist. Laura, an educated professional woman, married him several months later, despite knowing that he lacked warmth and the ability to connect. Now she is regretting it, and wondering whether to leave him. Both her sons dislike him intensely, and it is clear that they will never want any kind of relationship with him.

If you’re a step-parent, don’t make the same mistake. Regardless of your upbringing and your values and your ‘rules’ about parenting and about who runs the family, never try to exert authority over your step-children, until they have clearly shown that they care for you and trust you. Never apply consequences without consulting the biological parent, first. Some exceptions do exist, of course. But in general, if you follow this principle, you’ll experience much less frustration and conflict.

Thanks for reading!