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Divorce Resources for Women

Tips for Blending Families

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Blending families after the divorce or death of your spouse and your remarriage is not an intuitive process. It’s a challenging process riddled with difficulties. Biological parents may be pulled in different ways by their children and new spouse; stepparents may feel like a third wheel around their spouse and stepchildren; rivalry among stepsiblings may exceed what you possibly could expect; and more. So, learn as much as you can about how to blend families. You need realistic expectations about how soon your family truly may blend. You may need a reminder to pitch the fairytale notion of a perfect family. Most likely, you’ll benefit from specific tactics that experts can advise. Join a support group, and consider drawing on professional counseling. Beat the odds and successfully establish a happy blended family. For tips to get you started, read below.

  • Allow each child to develop a relationship with the stepparent and any stepsiblings at his or her own pace. It’s hard to predict whether having a younger sibling, for example, will be perceived as a joy or threat. Personalities, gender, ages, and more come into play.

 

  • Develop traditions unique to your blended family, but be sure to allow children to preserve past traditions they want to keep.

 

  • Honor the family within a family that exists in blended families. Make time for the biological parent to connect with his or her children without the stepmembers of the family in order to preserve that special relationship.

 

  • Keep rules and routines in your blended family consistent and clearly communicated. Ideally, your rules for your children would be the same as the rules for them at their other biological parent’s house. Realistically, that’s most likely not possible. But, keeping consistency at your home will make your children feel secure and help them develop strong, healthy relationships.

 

  • Agree that each biological parent, initially, should stay in charge of enforcing discipline for his or her children. As stepparent–stepchild relationships develop and strengthen, the stepparent can join in enforcing rules. Initially, though, that stress and responsibility should be reserved for the biological parent.

 

  • Treat all the children in your blended family equally. This may be tough if, for example, one child’s other biological parent heaps gifts upon him or her that your other children don’t receive. What your children need to see, though, is that you love and treat them equally. The truth is that your children have, and will develop throughout their lives, relationships with other people.

 

  • Play together. Yes, the expression “families that play together, stay together” has truth to it. Find ways to connect children and parents in various groupings during play to develop relationships.

 

  • Keep your marriage strong. Developing a happy, loving, secure relationship will benefit your entire family.

 

  • Have a baby! Yes, surprisingly perhaps, this is something that often draws blended families together. Each member of the family will have ties to the newborn. Plus, a stepparent without children will experience the parent–child bond that often puts other blended family relationships into perspective and relieves stress.

 

Do you have suggestions for strengthening a blended family? Stories to relate? Please let us know!

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