The face of the American family is changed – blended families are now the norm exceeding the number of traditional families. While your kids may not stand out by having stepparents, stepbrothers or stepsisters, getting these family members to live in harmony can still be challenging. Luckily, there are steps you can take to help everyone get along and live together peacefully.
Give it Time
The first thing to remember is growing pains will happen. You may just need to give the situation a little time. Everyone is going to struggle with their new role initially, but things will eventually start clicking into place. The average is between two and five years, so approach the situation with an attitude of long-term patience.
Make sure everyone has an open, friendly and safe place where they can raise concerns. If children or even new spouses feel stifled, your new family will never flourish.
You could have an anonymous drop box where family members can voice complaints or concerns, or you might invite kids to have private time with each parent. Make everyone’s new home a place where respect, openness and candidness is valued. Letting unresolved feelings simmer is a recipe for future disaster, so encourage thoughts and feelings to be voiced through your own example.
Be Clear About Expectations
Before you walk down the aisle to say “I do” again, take times to sit down with your future spouse and discuss their expectations and yours.
You can make the transition smoother if you both know what to expect, what the household rules will be and what are acceptable consequences. Discuss the values you want to promote, your beliefs on parenting and what your priorities are.
Proactive Responses to Problems with Exes
Your challenges won’t be limited to getting the kids and your new spouse to get along. Far too many couples also face problems from their ex-spouses.
Sometimes, the issues come in the form of baseless accusations. While you may know that claims of abuse are purely fictional, it’s still important to be proactive in your response. You won’t look guilty by hiring a Houston criminal defense attorney, but you’ll protect your rights and avoid problems down the road.
You should also sit down with Ex’s if possible and go over how their role as a parent may be changing. Maybe they won’t have as much custody now, or perhaps they are entitled to more. Go over any changes that may have taken place and find a middle ground both of you can agree on when it comes to kids, new parents and new siblings.
Be Careful with Your Own Speech
When you’re having problems with your former partner, you need to vent. However, be careful about what you say and who’s around when you say it.
The children don’t want to hear negative things about either parent. Subjecting them to this kind of negativity can have a serious impact on a child’s self-esteem.
Complain to your new spouse and turn to him or her for help, but do so in private where your children cannot hear you. You’ll also want to be careful of new stepchildren.
They may not know your former spouse, but your opinions on them can shape theirs as well.
It’s possible to merge the two families, but it’s going to take some work and patience on your part. Simply knowing how you’ll address different situations can take a good deal of stress out of the equation. Beyond that, the best thing you can do is be patient with the kids, yourself and your new spouse.
Sometimes outside help like a marriage family therapist is needed to help with the transition. Please click here to learn why family counseling is beneficial to blended families.