As the summer vacation winds down and your blended family looks toward the more normal schedules of school, homework, sports activities, music or dance lessons and all the other things that keep all of you busy, take some time to review, reassess and revise your blended family management plan.
Stop, look and listen in your stepfamily
Take time to notice how well your step kids and you are getting along, and how well you know and appreciate each other. Notice how the step siblings in your step family interact and how close step siblingsare to becoming bonded into a unified sibling unit. Notice how often you and your spouse step back from being step parents to enjoy quality time as a couple. Listen. Is there laughter in your step family household? Do you hear conversation that indicates considerate and caring personal interest in other family members? Is there spontaneous group activity or discussion? Is your relationship with your bio kids thriving? Do you spend enough one-on-one time with them?
Blended family meetings
Blended family meetings are a great way to review events of the summer, recognize milestones and celebrate accomplishments. They are also an excellent opportunity to perform a review of the rules of the household and have discussions about how they might be improved. As blended family members grow and develop new interests and obligations, so do needs and expectations. Time management concerns when one of the kids wants to add an after school activity or weekend meeting to a full family schedule affects the entire blended family; adjustments to assignments of household chores may be in order. Also, revised agreements about homework, curfews, allowances, time with friends, bedtimes, and other day to day issues may need to be worked out between parents and kids who are growing up. Talk openly and freely during your blended family meetings, and encourage everyone to speak their minds without fear of repercussion or retaliation. Remember, as the parental management team, you and your partner do not have to make on-the-spot decisions or agree to immediate household rule changes. It is fine for the kids to understand you two need time to talk and consider before making a decisionfor the blended family.
What is negotiable in a blended family?
Like many issues in our lives, some blended family issues are fixed and not open to discussion; such as your blended family requirement that everyone be treated with consideration and respect. Other issues that remain constant might refer to the parental management partnership which runs each blended family household; step kids are always expected to respond to the advice or reprimands of a step parent in the same way they would respond to their own bio parent.Some values are non-negotiable.
Blended family life is an organic arrangement, constantly growing and changing. If it is allowed to grow and change without direction, the outcome is not likely to match the objectives you and your partner hoped for when you first formed your blended family. Stay on top of the process by being involved and consistently present in the lives of your blended family members.
If you need any additional assistance, check out the resources at The Blended and Step Family Resource Center.