Families are a beautiful thing. As with all relationships, families have their own unique challenges. When it comes to blending two unique families after a marriage, be prepared for a new set of both bumps and bright spots! The early years can be particularly challenging in a newly blended family; not only are you and your new spouse getting to know each other and nurturing your own relationship, you’re developing relationships with your new stepchildren while ensuring your relationship with your own children remains strong.
Here are some tips as you strive to build a healthy blended family:
- Develop family rituals. You are now a new family unit and that means you must start to form your own family rituals. Although everyone is busy, one family ritual to strive for is to sit down to a family dinner each night. This is the perfect time to talk about your day and to share stories. It’s a great way for everyone to reconnect after a busy day.
- Spend 1:1 time with both stepkids and your own kids. Your kids and your stepkidsboth want to feel special. Spending one on one time with your kids and your stepkids will do just that. It allows you to focus on just one child at a time so that they can have your undivided attention. Being part of a blended family can be tough for some children which is why spending individual time is so important.
- Encourage a problem-solving approach when the kids run into issues. Your biological children will get into arguments with each other as well as with their new stepsiblings. The one thing you don’t want to do is play referee. You run the risk of taking sides which is a position you don’t want to be in with a blended family. Instead, encourage the kids to solve their problems on their own. Encourage them to talk through their problems to see the other person’s side so they can work out a resolution. This is not only teaching them real-world problem solving, but is also keeping you out of the middle.
- Openly discuss and agree on parenting strategies with your new spouse. Just because you said “I do” doesn’t mean you’re going to agree on everything, including parenting strategies. Sit down with your new spouse and talk about how you both parent so you can find common ground about what will work with your new blended family. Also, discuss if you will be parenting and disciplining each other’s children. This can be a touchy situation if you’re both not on the same page.
- Maintain the best relationships possible with your own ex as well as your new partner’s ex. You don’t have to be best friends with your ex or your partner’s ex, but you should at least be civil and be able to communicate effectively. Your children should be able to see that you can all get along together. This also means not bad-mouthing your ex or your partner’s ex. None of the children need to hear negativity when it comes to either ex-partner. Keeping things positive will help the children adjust better and learn that people can still be friends even after divorce.
While it may seem that becoming a blended family can be challenging in the beginning, know that with the right attitude and commitment, your new blended family can and will work.