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Congratulations! Your family just got bigger! A heck of a lot bigger and it seems to have happened over night! So how do you now co-habitate without going crazy?
First and foremost: bedrooms and the things (and people) that dwell within them are sacred spaces. Yes, I know that is simply a belief and it is only a room and stuff ….. but try explaining that to a 13 year old and surviving the conversation. Research has shown, time and time again, that parents need to prioritize moving their children’s rooms first – and setting up that space at the other end first. This is the base camp, the place of safety and security for our children. The longer they are without it, and the things that they consider to be “home”, the worse the crazy things they will do to themselves in their minds. And trust me, as a parent (and one who loves our children very much), that is a situation that we can try to avoid if at all possible. Age is no factor here …..a three year old and a 16 year old will act exactly the same way (although hopefully the 16 year old will not wet the bed!).
Which leads me nicely onto another point: behavioural regression. Let me put it to you in these terms: when I, as an adult, am feeling low, I love a blanket, chocolate and Winnie the Pooh films. I want to feel safe and loved. So too of our children and they go about it in similar ways: they tend to become younger and need a whole lot more love and comfort. In the under ten’s, this can mean quite a marked age regression which includes such fun things such as an increase in tantrums, sulks and yes, even bed wetting. Lack of understanding in this phase (“oh snap out of it!”) can actually increase the insecurity and thus increase the length of the regression. So for everyone’s sanity, it is best to approach it with a whole lot of hugs and understanding.
Oh if everyone could remain in a state of hugs, huh? Rather, those adults involved (including the grandparents, ex partners and extended family) are going to be trapped in their individual worlds of crazy insecure thinking as well. This may lead to a whole bunch of rather odd behaviour. The simple fact is that they, just like your children (and, hum… you too!) may not know entirely what they are doing and saying. It’s like everyone drank the crazy juice (they did: they believe the thinking they have going on their heads). The only thing you can do is be understanding, offer hugs (blankets, chocolate and Winnie the Pooh movies are also fine!) and above all, forgive them for anything inappropriate that occurs (just as you would your kids).
You are doing an amazing thing. You are forming a wonderful family. I cannot imagine anything better. Have fun with it and let the dust settle.