Remarriage into a family with children, or taking your children into a new family, is a personal commitment to building a blended family. Becoming a step parent is an important promise, and the choices you make and the environment you createwill have an effect on all of you.
Making a blended family work is hard work
People want to feel loved and that they belong to someone or something. As step parents, strive to make your blended family that unit of love and belonging. It is a hard job. Sometimes, after a long day, you get home and what you would really like to do is unwind. You wish you could just eat in peace, release the pressures of the day and put your brain into neutral. Your blended family, however, needs you to stay in gear and engaged for a while longer. As you and your spouse prepare dinner, manage the kids and the dog, check the mail, sign school permission slips, and check to see what there is for homework, you are giving your undivided attention to thatchallenging hands-on activity known as managing a step family.
Building a blended family
I know that all parenting is hard, even in nuclear families. But as those of us in a blended family know, step parenting and managing something as diverse and as prone to contention as a step family often takes more effort. Anything worth aiming for calls for a plan. As trite as it sounds, a blended family plan must begin with you, the parents. Communicate about everything. A solid relationship is crucial if you are to be successful as a couple, not to mention as effective parents and step-parents.If the prime relationship in your blended family is not working well, all step family relationships suffer. That does not mean you choose spouse over children; it means you give your central relationship the attention it deserves.
A blended family usually comes together after the loss of a nuclear family. It was hard,and something no one wants to repeat. For every remarriage that does not succeed, a blended family is lost, too. Sustain your marital relationship. You deserve to make a success of it, and your step family deserves to succeed.
Learning to live in a step family
Blended family life probably looked easier before your remarriage, and learning how to do it cantakemore patience and understanding than you expected. For step siblings as well as for step parents, adjusting to a new way of doing just about everything is hard, when everything had always seemed so normal! Accepting people and things for the way they are is a hard skill to master, and a chore for everyone;and it takes a set of ground rules that everyone can follow, or accept the consequences. While blended family ground rules are usually best formed by consensus, you should establish some non-negotiable rules to be set in stone. Such as, treating others with respect and consideration. You and the step siblings may have different understandings of that rule, so you might go ahead and be as specific as your step family requires. Another suggested inviolable rule might ensure that step siblings are treated equally, with no preferential treatment regardless of whether they live with you full time or part time. Step kids watch how everyone in the household is being treated. They do not miss anything.
Building your blended family is hard, and definitely a labor of love and dedication. Not every day will feel like a success, but every once in a while, a couple of the step siblings will unite against something you have said or done as parents. And you will realize, hey! They agree and are working together! Small victories come from unexpected places. And they give those of us managing blended families reassurance.