Moving in with a new partner and their children can be challenging as everyone tries to find their role and work out how their relationships are going to work. It is hard for adults to find a constructive way to parent their partner’s children when they might feel they don’t have the authority to do so. Equally the children might not feel like taking instructions from their new step-parent so it does take some working out.

Many children are now living in households where there are children to different parents and complicated relationships between the various adults. If you find you are in this situation and things are not working out, you might want to try family mediation to see if it can be improved. Mediators don’t tell you what to do so it’s a safe place to try things out where everyone is listened to.

Children can also have a voice in this process and this might help to smooth the step-parenting relationship. All National Family Mediation providers offer an additional session(s) for children (usually involving siblings together) which runs alongside the family mediation process. This is called Direct Consultation with Children. We offer children an opportunity to express their views and wishes about the issues affecting them post separation. Parents will only be told what children wish them to hear (with the important exception to confidentiality in relation to risk of harm).

Sometimes it is hard for children to accept their mum or dad are in a new relationship, particularly if it happens quickly and you and your new partner move in together before the children have had a chance to get their head around your separation. Often parents worry that their children are being introduced to a new partner too early when the relationship is not yet established. Children can get very attached to new partners and are then upset again if that relationship doesn’t last.

In Family Mediation, parents have the opportunity to discuss these things, to work out what to do if their children are struggling to accept what’s happened. When children are consulted, they often have very real concerns about losing both parents or having to live with someone they don’t know. Getting these concerns out in the open can help everyone to move on.

Becoming a step parent comes with some major implications for you, your relationship and your new family. The Becoming a Step-Parent Website has some excellent resources, extensive advice, tips and articles for step-parents

National Family Mediation (NFM) is a network of professional family mediation providers based in England and Wales that work with families affected by relational breakdown. All providers aim to help clients achieve an outcome that works best for them and their family

If you would like to get more information about mediation and/or make an appointment you can contact NFM direct on 0300 4000 636 or you can contact a NFM family mediation provider in your area.

All services also take referrals from Solicitors, the court or other helping / support agencies.

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