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Q. I have full custody of my 14-year-old, and I'm engaged to a man with full custody of his three teens. How can we help everyone get along?
A. Well, there's nothing like a challenge to start a marriage off on the right foot! I'd call a group meeting where you and your fiance present a united front and each reiterate your love for your children, recognize that this can be a stressful situation, and ask the kids to share their hopes and concerns.
Then one of you says, "We want a new family in which everyone feels valued and respected, but it obviously won't work without your help. When someone gets on your last nerve, we want you to speak to the person directly and tell him or her exactly what's bothering you and give possible solutions. And if an issue impacts us all, any one of us can call a family meeting where we'll do the same thing. It may be hard, but this way we can build a family we can all be proud of."
Originally published in the May 2009 issue of Family Circle magazine.