If you and your most special someone have decided to build a life together, good for you! If either one or both of you already have children from a previous relationship, good luck! Blending families is done every day, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Uniting two half-families to create a new family entity can be a big challenge however; it can also be a whole lot of fun. In the interest of happy families of every description, we offer these helpful pointers that may help you build an amazing new family unit.
Respect the differences and find a way to deal with them
A newly blended family may be very different from the family you used to be part of. In some blended families, kids are closer in age than would be possible in a natural, two-parent family. Sometimes, a new step-parent is barely older than the oldest child of the other parent. When only one partner brings children into a blended family, the new step-parent might not have any experience with raising kids at all. Patience and humor go a long way toward building a happy blended family.
The Blended Family Success Network advises adults to behave civilly toward one another, despite their differences and any dislike they may hold for each other.
Kids adjust to blended families at their own pace
The younger a child is, the easier it may be for them to get used to the idea of having a different parent in the home. This is generally because very little kids tend to thrive in a cohesive family relationship, says HelpGuide. On the other hand, younger kids also need more attention than older kids, especially teenagers who’d just as soon be out with their friends than at home with mom and dad.
Adolescents older than ten may have a hard time demonstrating their emotions. Bear in mind that an adolescent who acts nonchalant may well be experiencing some deep emotion as pertains to the newly blended family. For this and other reasons, it’s generally a good idea for the birth parent to be in charge of discipline, at least until the youngster is well adjusted to being part of a blended family unit.
Teenagers may be aloof, preferring the company of their peers to any sort of family participation. At the same time, teens want to feel loved and respected, so be sure to let them know that you understand their growth, but still want them to be part of the new family.
Have fun as a family before moving in together
A friendly road trip can bring a potential family closer together. Put baby seats into your Dodge Durango as needed, pack a cooler chest with sandwich fixings and cold beverages and load up the kids and the dogs. Cruise to the beach or a local park to get to know one another while having a casual good time. It will give the kids a chance to “hang out” before they have to share a house –and their parent– full time.
Blending families may be hard work, but with plenty of patience, love, and respect, the resulting family unit can be a wonderful, happy group of people.
Phoebe Stevens is a Mom with a newborn baby and a toddler at home, with 2 step-children who visit at weekends and for holidays. She writes about parenting topics during her free moments, enjoying sharing her tips and thoughts with like minded Mom’s around the world.