Advice on Blending Families

Blending families can be a difficult process. Not only are you and your partner getting used to each other, but the children from your past relationships have to learn how to live under one roof. If you and your partner encourage open communication and tackle conflicts as soon as they arise, you can ease the transition for yourselves and your children.

Talk About It ASAP

Even before you and your partner decide to blend your families through marriage or living together, you need to talk about what this means for you as individuals, as a couple and for your families. If you have children, you need to introduce this idea carefully and give them time to process the big change. Each parent should tell his or her own children separately and then bring the families together to discuss the details of the plan. Be prepared to answer any questions your children may have.

Where to Live

Blending two families involves deciding where your family will live. If you and your partner can manage it, you should consider moving into a new home. Not only does this signal a new beginning, but it also avoids one family feeling displaced or as if they have less ownership over a home. Additionally, the original family homes will be full of memories and experiences that the other family did not participate in, which can also lead to hurt feelings.

Dealing With the Previous Marriage

A new marriage and the blending of two families can sometimes remind parents and children of the previous marriage. Don't pretend as if this period in your lives didn't exist. Instead, be willing to talk about these things. Don't pretend that exes do not exist or that the past didn't happen. In fact, if one of the children refers to that marriage, be sure to ask questions and engage with them. If you show that you are interested in the children's feelings, it will ease the transition.

Dealing With Parenting Issues

Parenting has its challenges, but blended family parenting presents its own unique obstacles. You and your partner need to discuss how you will deal with one another's children and what your parenting philosophies are like.

Much of the time, if you let the biological or custodial parent keep primary control of their children, you can avoid major problems. The children will already be used to their parent's style. This doesn't mean that the stepparent has less authority, but the children will feel more comfortable with this situation and will be less likely to act out.

When it comes to the rules, such as curfew and chores, align your rules as much as possible. Be consistent and back one another up. You and your loved one want to appear to be a unified front. If your partner makes a rule, try your best to help enforce it, especially when it comes to your stepchildren.

Additionally, you need to talk to your children about how they're feeling about this change. Feel out how they perceive their new stepparent, and this will help you devise a parenting plan with your loved one. Ask children what they want from this family and what rules they'd like to implement into this newly blended family. If you offer a sense of control, your child will be less likely to act out or be resistant to the new arrangement.

Make sure that each parent regularly has alone time with each of the children. This will help everyone develop new connections within the family. Additionally, it will allow each member of the family to feel comfortable with one another.

Building New Memories

Make sure that you and your newly blended family spend quality time together. Have sit-down dinners as much as you can, talk about your days and make plans for group trips and outings. If you are genuinely interested in your family's activities, it may make the transition even easier. During your conversations, make sure to talk about the future with your new family. What do you want for yourselves and for the household? The children need to know what to expect, and they should feel like they have input.

Also, you and your family should begin some new traditions for the holidays. This doesn't mean getting rid of your families' old traditions; it means adding to them. Blending involves taking the old and combining it with the new.

Give It Time

Building new memories, combining two families and adjusting to changes can take time. Don't expect everything to jell immediately, and don't expect your stepchildren to call you mom or dad right away. Furthermore, don't expect the children in the household to get along with each other.

You may need to resolve many different conflicts as the children learn how to share space with their new stepsiblings. When conflicts do arise, resolve them as swiftly and as fairly as possible, and get both parents involved. If one parent seems to take the side of his or her child, the other children could become upset.Blending two families will take time and energy, but giving everyone the time and space they need to process these new changes will help the new family bond.

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