Blended Families- Five steps to succeed

Blended families dos and dont’s

With more and more couples finding themselves remarrying for a second time  the issue of blended families is an important one. If you have divorced and you are considering getting married a second time it is easy to become frustrated with the pains of uniting all parties together. Children, especially, can be very resistant to change and may have difficulty if the new family does not function just like their original family.

Experts contend, however, that by taking a few simple steps prior to and after the marriage many of the common issues of blended families can be resolved. So what are some of those steps?

1.      Do not rush into a blended family

Give the divorce or death time. Taking time will allow everyone to deal with their unresolved emotions and get used to a blended family. Studies show that blended families are most successful if the couple waits two or more years after a death or divorce to remarry. It is not unusual for several drastic changes all at one time to cause stress on children.

2.      Allow yourself time to bond with your spouse’s children

Although you may have loved your child the minute the doctor placed them in your arms, it may not be the same with your spouse’s children. Take your time and let the affection grow naturally. Do not feel guilty if you do not have instantaneous love for them.

3.      Allow time to experience a wide variety of situations

I remember while dating my spouse my mother telling me it is important to date long enough to see your spouse in different life situations; the same holds true for your potential second spouse. Give the relationship time to develop. Find out how your potential mate reacts when a loved one dies, they face a job crisis or they fight with their parents. Daily situations can tell you a lot about someone else and whether the two of you will be compatible. Whether or not you are compatible must be decided prior to creating a blended family.

4.      Seek counseling to develop a parenting plan for your blended family

Co-parenting and defining boundaries and moral values is very important. It also should be done BEFORE you are married and try to create a blended family. Don’t wait until a difficult situation arises to decide how the two of you will deal with the children. Make a plan together and consistently enforce it and the children will be less resentful of the new spouse.

5.      Support each spouse’s parenting efforts

Do not undermine the other spouse in front of the kids and do not make the kids choose one of you over the other. The children may not always agree with the parent’s decisions but they should be required to treat each of you with respect.

Accept the notion that parenting can be a thankless job especially within blended families

How many of truly appreciate our parents until they are gone? Parenting is one of those activities we do out of sheer love and commitment to our families, knowing that appreciation and thanks may not be reciprocated. Lower your expectations and accept what love and appreciation you do get.

Over time, if you take the right steps and you have chosen a supportive spouse, everyone should eventually adjust to the idea of a new family.

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