Before you decide to merge into a blended family
You now find yourself hoping a blended family environment can help you and your kids recover the sense of future and permanence which was lost to your widowhood or divorce. Are you thinking of marrying someone with their own kids? Remarriage after a death or divorce comes with more than a few challenges, but when there are children involved, the challenges increase; when both partners bring kids into the step family, they increase exponentially. Please be sure your decision to remarry is as well-considered as it is well-intentioned.
Blended family basics
Basic decisions regarding fundamental issues will be among your first considerations.
- Finding an entirely new home for your two merging families is generally the best, though not always achievable, option. If some of you will join an already established home, have you considered how to make the new residents feel welcome?
- Parenting styles, discipline, and setting household rules and expectations should be thoroughly discussed prior to merging two distinct families. Have you thought about what changes will be needed, both before and after the merge, regarding rules and disciplinary measures?
- The scope of authority for parents as they relate to step kids is a common source of conflict for step families. Agree on a plan of action, but be willing to make adjustments if and when they are warranted.
- Discuss possible ways to help your kids adapt to blended family life, keeping in mind that your hopes, dreams and expectations may differ radically from those of your children. Give your kids, and their feelings, the understanding and respect they deserve, but all the while striving for the stable and nurturing blended family environment you have in mind for them.
- The central blended family partnership, marriage, is key to the success of your blended family development. Agree on a plan of action that will keep your relationship at the top of your priority list. Without your strong example of a healthy relationship, your kids may not learn how to build one for themselves later on.
- Discuss and plan measures to build and maintain relationships with ex-spouses which will support co-parenting efforts.
Questions to ask before walking the step family path
Stepping onto the blended family highway is a step of faith. You know it will be challenging, if not outright difficult at times, but you feel confident in the love and commitment you and your new partner share. Good! Love does not, sadly, conquer all; but it can help remind you why you merged your families to begin with, and help focus on what you hoped to accomplish when you chose a blended family future together. Also necessary are factors like the ability to compromise; a desire to make a real and positive influence on the lives of your own kids and your step kids; a willingness to try new ways of doing things; a sense of humor; a healthy understanding of your own strengths and weaknesses, and an ability to forgive yourself and others for their failings. Acceptance. Compassion. Selflessness. Commitment. If you need additional assistance, contact The Blended and Step Family Resource Center– we are here for you.