6 Ways To Thrive As A Blended Family
Picture this: you have children, you’re dating a person who also has children, and you decide you want to get married. Combining your life with another person’s may be no easy task, especially when kids are involved. Will the kids like each other? Will your partner's parenting style be close enough to yours to make this work? Will the kids adjust well to their new lifestyle and living situation?
While it is true that some adjustments may be difficult, they are not impossible to make. Many people successfully transition from a single parent household to a blended family without a hitch. Every family has ups and downs, and blended families are no exception. While there may be bumps along the way, you can gain the knowledge and tools necessary to have a thriving blended family.
What Is A Blended Family?
A blended family is a family that comes together as a result of the relationship of two adults who both already have children. This involves each parent taking on the stepparent role for their partner’s children.
When the two families merge, there are many things that can be done to make sure the new family thrives. These are relatively simple to implement but can require consistency to guarantee longevity.
Give It Time
When you first blend your families, there might be chaos. The children may have resentment towards your new partner as a result of missing their other parent or wanting to be a whole family with them again.
The timeline that it takes to be successful as a blended family can vary depending on many factors. The children's age(s), their relationships with your partner or your ex, and whether they have to move to a new home can all be part of this. Although you have likely considered this decision extensively before going through with it, the kids may still feel like they have had the rug pulled from underneath them.
This time of transition may seem to last for a long time. The most important thing you can do at this stage is remain a constant for your children. Reassure them that while their surroundings and situations may have changed, the love you and your partner have for them has not and never will.
Give the children as much time as needed to adjust to their new lives. Keep your patience and rest assured; better days are likely ahead!
Blended Families: Try To Get Along With The Ex
When you choose to take the next step with your partner, you may have to be around exes frequently, which can create delicate situations. It can be difficult to know how to interact with this person, especially if you are faced with negativity or even hostility.
Try your best to avoid conflict. Even though your partner's ex may exhibit ill feelings towards you, this person is still a parent to the children who you are now helping to raise. No matter how much hurt or anger has been dealt out, it’s best to remain cordial—at the very least—with this person. This can be a lot easier said than done, especially if the ex-partner doesn’t wish to be friendly with you. While it would be ideal if you were both on the same page and treated each other well, the reality is that some people just aren’t in a place to give you the respect you deserve. It’s possible they will come around in the future once time has passed, and emotions have died down. So, try not to give up on them.
When you follow this philosophy, you can show the children that you care for them by showing kindness to their parent. You want to model healthy and good relationships, even with people you aren’t on particularly good terms with. Additionally, by letting the children see you have a good relationship with your partner's ex, you can lessen the risk of alienating them, which can cause further issues in the household that you have worked so hard to build.
Remaining on good terms with your partner's ex might not always be an easy task. There may be times when you slip up or forget the path that you have chosen to take with this person; that’s okay. Have a conversation with them regarding how you will redirect so that this doesn't happen in the future.
Children can be very adaptable and resilient creatures. Given the right environment and support, they can handle many things. However, you want to set them up for success and offer them enough support. In order for you to provide that support, you will likely need to create plenty of structure.
There are many things that you can do to create structure in your home. The first thing you can implement relatively quickly and easily is a chore schedule. This can give the children something constructive to do with their time while teaching them valuable skills that they will bring into their adult lives. It also teaches them that they will need to contribute to this new household so that you can all thrive.
If you have young children who are not able to do traditional chores, you could add some structure by having a plan for each day. Make sure that mealtimes and play times are around the same time each day. Another important aspect of this comes at bedtime. Research shows that children who have a consistent and early bedtime have increased emotional stability, growth, and development.
Blended Families: Flexibility Is Key
When you are a part of a blended family, you may learn very quickly that there are many moving parts. While it can be important that you provide plenty of structure in your new house, it can be equally as important to be flexible.
Flexibility can come in many forms when it comes to blended families. It could also apply to the way you and your partner choose to parent each of your children respectively.
When considering a visitation schedule for all children involved, consider what will be best for them. The children must always come first. They will likely do best if they have both of their parents in a supportive capacity. Be as flexible as you can with your ex when you are planning things.
It is possible that both you and your partner have been doing the single parent gig for a while before you chose to do it together. The way that you parent your children will likely be different than the way they parent theirs. Some parents choose to let the biological parent discipline and guide their children.
If this doesn't sound right for you, remember to be flexible with your partner. In time, you can get on the same page, but it will probably take plenty of patience!
Open A Line Of Communication
On your journey to getting that perfect blended family, you may have many trials and tribulations. There are so many different things going on all at once, and it can, at times, be difficult to manage.
The best way for you to be able to identify and conquer your problems could be by talking about them and facing them head on. Set aside time each week where you can all sit down together and talk about what's working and what's not. On your first session, you might ask everyone for their blended family definition. Discuss what this means for each of you and set goals for the future.
As you continue on this journey to being a big happy family, you may run into issues that are unique to blended families. Each time something comes up, though, you will have a platform and way to fix your issues through communication.
This can also greatly improve the children's trust in you and your partner because they have a platform where they can speak and be heard. They can also see the desire that you have to make things manageable and easy for them. The family can come together as more of a team, which can help make the whole process more enjoyable and memorable for everyone.
If you are doing all you can and the communication just isn't constructive, a licensed family counselor could also be a valuable resource for you and your family. Consider reaching out to someone in your area when you feel ready.
Start New Traditions
It can be hard for everyone to have a sense of belonging and happiness in a new blended family. Once the adjustment period wears off, you want to be sure that you are doing all you can to keep the unit lively and happy.
One way you can do this could be by starting new traditions. This can be incorporated in the foods that you cook on weekend or the way you celebrate holidays. This could be as simple as setting a time aside each week for game night or going to a movie once or twice a month.
This step can be essential in creating new memories and giving your blended family more definition. It’s likely to help foster a sense of belonging and understanding for everyone. Additionally, the bonding time that you will get from this may be invaluable to your success as a new blended family.
There may be nothing more memorable and exciting than having fun and making memories together. This can help solidify your family's success for many years to come.
Starting a blended family can be hard work, and you shouldn’t have to do it alone. If you and your partner are experiencing issues that feel too complex to handle on your own, consider speaking to a therapist through BetterHelp. All you need is a phone, laptop, or tablet and a willingness to talk and learn. Your therapist can equip you with new tools to conquer the challenges your family is facing. Sometimes you just need someone to listen attentively to what you have to say. When you receive advice, you can rest knowing it’s from an unbiased, caring source who is here to help.
Studies show that online therapy is just as effective as in-person therapy in treating the symptoms of multiple mental illnesses. Also, 95% of couples who engage in online couple’s therapy report that the process is helpful. So, if you feel stuck in a rut, online therapy can be a discreet, affordable, and effective way of helping you and those you love. BetterHelp offers individual counselors as well as family therapists and couple’s therapists.
Consider reaching out today, no matter what kind of problems you may be experiencing in your life. BetterHelp can provide the support you need right away so that you can focus on what matters most.
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