Blended Families: 7 Tips to Help Ease the Transition
As divorce is on the increase in numerous places in the world, blended families have become a common type of household. Many families have a lot of difficulties navigating this unique family situation with success.
A major reason is that members of blended families must make many adjustments in their lives. The transition can be problematic. And trying to force it can breed conflict and resentment.
How can you make it easier?
Blended Families – Tips for Easing the Transition
1. Get on the same page with all parents
To help ease the transition into a blended family, your children need as much stability as possible. Having a consistent routine can help make them feel more secure. For that very reason, both parents need to sit down together and agree on how they will handle such important matters as allowances, bedtimes, chores, discipline, homework, and rewards.
2. Foster respect
Model the respect you expect from your children by the way you treat your new spouse. Don’t allow them to disrespect or disregard their stepparent. If you are the stepparent, it’s important that you don’t try to force respect by over-disciplining your new stepchildren. A much better approach is allowing each biological parent to discipline their own children until you both have gained the children’s affection and respect. Then, carefully ease into participating in the discipline of each other’s children.
3. Include the children in the transition process
Talk with your children before making major decisions such as living arrangements. Ask them how they could help make their new step-siblings feel welcome and like part of the family. Take the lead in including your stepchildren in family activities – special ones as well as daily chores. It will keep them from feeling like a guest in the house.
4. Relax, be patient, and don’t set your expectations too high
Don’t imagine for a moment that you can just step into a new family and everything will magically come together. Relax, take it slow, and don’t try to force instant bonds between everyone. Just be patient and give your new blended family space and time to develop. It could take years for everyone to adjust completely.
5. Keep the biological connections strong
Encourage all the children to keep a close connection to both of their biological parents. It may be difficult when one lives in Seattle and the other in Houston, but it’s not impossible. When you’re supportive in this way and respectful of the ex-spouses, the children will see that it isn’t a competition for affection. Rather, it shows them that you truly care about their happiness.
6. Give support to the children who have to live in two households
Show compassion and understanding to the children who have to move back and forth. Don’t assume all is fine but be ready to listen when they need you. They may worry about missing out on something while they’re gone. They may also still have a lot of unresolved feelings about the end of their biological parent’s marriage or the death of one of their parents. The moment of packing up and moving once again can be highly emotional and feel overwhelming to them. Be by their side.
7. Nurture your marriage
Of course, the transition is not just tough on the children but also for you and your spouse. You’ll need your partner’s support and they need yours. So, don’t forget to make time for each other and cultivate closeness. Your relationship needs to be strong to make a success of your new blended family.
Applying these seven tips will give you a good foundation for creating your own unique family identity. But if you need more specific help, don’t hesitate to seek family counseling. Your new family is worth every effort.
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