Tag: Blended Family

Three Tips for Managing a Blended Family

couple-and-familyDuring any new marriage there’s an adjustment period.  When there are kids involved, making it a blended family, there will definitely be a period of adjustment – for everyone.  As family members begin to learn more about each other and their new roles there will inevitably be some challenges.  Here are a few tips to help manage the transition.
1.  Be Patient – Remind yourself this will take time.  Chances are the kids will not fall in love with their new stepparent or step-siblings overnight.  The same goes for parents.  It may take some time to fall wholeheartedly in love with your new step-children, particularly if they are having a difficult time with the transition and are acting out.  It’s ok to take some time.  Trying to force a relationship too fast won’t help anything.  Try to allow a little space while still being available to them when ready.  Remind yourself that blending a family is a big transition and each individual family member may be working on their own time frame.
2.  Make Time for Each Other – As a newly married couple with children it may be difficult to find the time to connect with each other one-on-one.  Make dates a priority.  Investing time in your marriage can strengthen your foundation and help you both to lean on each other during what may be a difficult transition.  It’s smart for you not just as a couple, but as new co-parents.  Spending the time to connect with each other can help provide the support you need to remain strong and be consistent with the kids.
3.  Set Family Boundaries and Expectations – Take the time to lay some ground-rules with the family early on and involve the kids in the process.  Let them know there is an expectation of respect for every family member.  (This also goes for members not present – don’t speak negatively about the child’s “real” parent in front of them).  It’s also important to note that in the beginning it’s best for the biological parent to be the disciplinarian, not the stepparent.  Stepparents need time to build relationships with stepchildren before they can easily step into the role of disciplining.
Take a deep breath.  Building a family is a marathon, not a sprint.  Work hard to develop a home environment that will foster organic growth in the individual relationships.

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Blended Families: Joys and Challenges

Blended Family
Blending a family through marriage can be exciting.  More family members can mean a larger support system for everyone.  Stepparents have a unique opportunity to become an important role model in the life of a child and stepsiblings of all ages can create lifelong bonds.  Merging families may open the door for new cultural and religious experiences that can add depth to the life of a child.
Unfortunately, blending a family can also prove to be very challenging.  Bringing together two separate groups of individuals will inevitably require some adjusting.  Know that the transition period may be handled differently for each family member.  For example, younger children are often more accepting and adjust quicker than adolescents.   Children of all ages may struggle with new rules, roles, and siblings and may feel like they are a threat to “the way things used to be.”  They may also resist a stepparent because they feel the need to remain loyal to their parent.  Remember that children need to feel loved, accepted, and important.  Children in blended families need to feel they are heard especially during the transition.  Work towards maintaining a dialogue about the joys and challenges within the family while everyone continues to adjust.

Managing the Holidays in a Blended Family

Blending a family can feel like putting pieces of a puzzle together.  Holidays-in-a-Blended-FamilySometimes it may feel like the pieces don’t fit.  This can be especially true at the holidays.  It can be stressful for children, young and old alike, to maneuver through the holiday season between multiple families.
Many find it helpful to communicate clearly with the children what the plans and expectations are.  Knowing the schedule ahead of time may allow the kids to prepare for what’s ahead.  With that said, they may need some flexibility.  Allowing the children the opportunity to openly share their feelings may help to reduce feelings of stress, anxiety, or even resentment.
During the dialogue the children may also express their hopes for the holidays.  This may include the desire to maintain some old traditions or try some new ones.  Some families have found that lending open ears and an open mind to these suggestions go a long way towards letting the children know that their needs and opinions are important, too.

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