Blending Families

If you remarry someone with children, you of course want the transition into the new relationship and marriage to be easy. Here are some guidelines that might help you transition into a blended family. Committing yourself to using these tips in your new blended family can assure an easier family change.

For The Biological Parent:

    * Create family structure.

    * Establish clear boundaries and consequences to crossing those boundaries.

    * Allow your children to have some control and give input regarding those boundaries.

    * Be a positive role model to your children.

    * Don’t stifle your children. Allow them to express their feelings and concerns over the      newly blended family.

    * Make sure you have alone time with your spouse.

    * Plan activities that the family as a whole can participate in.

For the Stepparent:

    * Focus on the positive aspects of each child’s personality. Only focusing on the negative breeds contempt and there is no room in the stepparent relationship for contempt.

    * Support the biological parent when it comes to discipline.

    * Act as a guide or friend to your stepchild. Do not try to become his/her parent.

    * Be prepared for it to take a period of time for your stepchild to bond with you.

    * Never use unkind words, only positive communication and affirmations are acceptable.

    *Don’t get discouraged. Don’t expect an instant bond and try to learn the virtue of patience.

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shutterstock_45220696.jpgRemember, it's never easy to blend families. The modern blended family comes with a lot of common conflicts. Most of the common conflicts occur between the parents who are blending their children’s’ lives together. Frequently, they will involve one parent upset because they feel the other parent is taking the side of their own children and disregarding their stepchildren.

The big problem is trying to understand that with a blended family, the children now have two different types of parents. They have a biological parent and a new stepparent. Of course, if the other biological parent is remarried, it can result in the child having two separate blended homes.

shutterstock_76506850.jpgYou have time: It’s vital for you to remember that love doesn’t develop overnight. Instead, within a healthy blended family love develops over time. In your adult relationship, you needed time to for your relationship to develop. There were months or years in between you meeting, dating, falling in love, being engaged and getting married. Even if your children were a large part of the relationship from the beginning, you may have to start the cycle over again after getting remarried. Children need time to develop lasting relationships. So, it’s important not to rush them in the process. Most children will develop feelings of love and attachment to their stepparent, over time, if the parent is patient and loving to them.

shutterstock_76848931.jpgDealing with new authority: Sometimes a new blended family brings on resentment from children when they realize they must answer to another adult. Many children will state, “You’re not my father so you can’t tell me what to do!” It is very difficult to treat someone else’s child with the same understanding you’d show your own. So, there may be some truth in the matter a child feels a stepparent is treating them unfairly. In fact, sometimes a stepparent is less objective of their own children. They may be more critical of stepchildren. Most stepparents are only trying to be good parents; however stepchildren can become defensive if they feel judged. Learning to deal with this struggle is vital and requires patience on the part of all people involved.

Trust is important in step parenting: To function properly, all families must recognize the importance of trust. This is especially true in a blended family. To begin with, both parents must be able to fully trust one another. Even if the blended family had created the family through childbirth, instead of remarriage, they would likely have two different parenting styles. It’s important to use communication and understanding, to develop trust for individual parenting styles.

While adjusting to something different can be scary, it’s not always bad! It’s important to talk with each other about values or rules that are important to each of you. In addition, you should also talk about feelings and how your family is changing. It’s very important for your children to witness your modeling of communication and acceptance. Find a way to talk about any difference, make compromises and present a united front. This will allow the children to feel secure and adjust more quickly.

Blending families can be a real challenge within a marriage.

 If you find it too difficult to tackle, don’t give up!

 Instead, seek help from a family therapist who is experienced in blended families.


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