If you are starting a blended family, you probably have several concerns. Will the children have conflict and how will you deal with them? Will your partner love his own children more than yours? How will you solve conflict when there are two sets of children vying for attention and who probably believe that their lives will change for the worst now? The first thing is to get to grips with the fact that there will definitely be conflict and jealousy in the beginning as everyone tries to get their bearings.
How you pave the way for a happily blended family is what is going to make the difference.
The other thing you have to accept is that you cannot expect that a new partner should love your children with the same intensity as he loves his own children; at least not at first. Both sets of children are faced with loyalty issues. Children should never be made to choose or take sides. This is only the beginning for both of you. What you do right at the start will set the tone for what is to become.
Laying the Foundations for A Blended Family
- Reassure your children that the divorce was not in any way their fault.
- Start talking with your children about the possibility of remarriage long in advance.
- Begin a dialogue about the future blended family life.
- Assure your children that they will still have a relationship with their other non – residential parent.
- Find ways to experience ‘real life’ as a blended family. Try and get your children more comfortable with your partner and his/her children in daily life situations.
- Start making parenting changes before you remarry which will allow for a smoother transition.
- Have the stepparent assume the role of either a friend or a guidance counselor, leaving the discipline to the biological parent, until a solid bond has formed.
- Respect pre – existing relationships. Allow your new partner time alone with his children.
- Have compassion for everyone in this new blended family. Members of your newly blended family are going to be at various life stages and have different emotional needs – not to mention different stages in accepting their new family. Understand and honor these differences.
- Present a unified parenting approach that is evenly applied to everyone in the family so that no one is showed favoritism.
- To help the children adjust, set a regular time aside for a blended family meeting. Have a proactive conversation, make decisions and solve problem which have risen.
- Spend time alone with your children and also with your step – children connecting on a one – to –one basis.
- Do not take it personally if your new step children to not take to you immediately.
- Do not push your children in creating relationships either. Allow bonds to evolve slowly and naturally.
- As a blended family you should strive to be sensitive to each member’s needs and affirm, support, and trust one another.
- Give the children time, space and flexibility to adjust to the blended family.
- Start establishing new traditions as a blended family.
- A blended family involves changes in relationships within the joining families.
- The quality of the relationship with your partner inevitably influences the functioning of the blended family.
Marriage is hard work. Integrating a blended family is doubly so. Exercise patience, as things will be better off if you let time take its course. Don’t sweat the small things, but anticipate the big things before they occur. Take it one day and two laundry loads at a time.