Tips for Blended Families

Remarrying can be a challenge for even the best of matches.  Adding children to the family dynamic can be very challenging to say the least.  Ex-spouses can still play a role in your life, due to shared children.  This can definitely create some stress and trials in all relationships.  Working together as a parenting unit is the best way to plan for a successful transition.

What is a blended family exactly?  It is a family that consists of a couple and their children from this and all previous relationships.  Therefore, the family dynamic can become very tricky with multiple parental figures.  Here are some tips to ensure that your blended family operates as smoothly as possible.

Communication – For any relationship, communication is key.  Stepfamily couples need to learn to keep the lines of communication open and in working order.  Communication and conflict resolution skills are an excellent predictor on the success of remarriages.

Patient – This is not just new for you, but also new for the entire family.  Give everything time and ensure that you have tons of patience for all family members, especially the ex-spouses.  It may take years to unite as one family, but keep trying and working together to create a safe and welcoming place.

Peer support – Talk to other families that have gone through the same experiences to get tips and ideas on how to deal with the transition.  Others can provide tips and insight that only experienced people can provide.

Professional support – There may be extenuating circumstances that make the transition harder than most.  For these instances and any others, consider seeking psychological help from a licensed therapist that specializes in blended family dynamics.  Talking things out as a family can be the best way to understand each other with an unbiased mediator.

One-on-one time – Make sure that biological parents have a chance to spend alone time with their children.  Having a new spouse, can cause competitions for time alone and children should know that they are still important to their parent.  Sharing time with new siblings can be very hard to deal with at first.

Traditions – Make sure to keep family traditions that are important to your family and try to incorporate new traditions with new family members to show that your time together is growing and expanding.  Traditions are extremely important to ensure that we know who we are and where we came from.

Visitation Schedule – Make sure the visitation schedule is predictable and comfortable.  Obviously, things come up that may require slight tweaks to the schedule, but the schedule should remain intact for most of the year to allow the children to plan.  Using children to punish ex-spouses hurts the children most and should be avoided at all costs.

Teamwork – Make sure that parents and step-parents work as a team.  If electronics are only allowed for an hour during a school night, this rule should be consistently enforced in any household the child visits.  Otherwise, children will learn which household is easiest to take advantage of lax parental rules within.

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