Starting a blended family requires a lot of love, a bit of wisdom, and a healthy dose of patience. About 75 percent of Americans who divorce each year will eventually remarry, and many will create blended families with their new spouses.
Every family has its own strengths and challenges. Being aware of some of the common pitfalls for parents in blended families will help you be prepared and proactive.
The challenges that can come with a blended family
Discipline. Discipline is often a tricky part of parenting, and especially in a blended family, it may demand a lot of flexibility and creativity.
You and your spouse may have to set aside a time to discuss how discipline worked in your stepchildren’s previous home. Within a blended family, it is extremely important that discipline be handled by the child’s biological parent only. A step-parent should be respected like any other adult, however, if discipline is doled out by a step-parent, it is likely to damage an existing relationship between step-child and step-parent or prevent a healthy one from forming.
Respecting boundaries. For the children, there is a slew of changes that can be overwhelming and confusing. They may feel that growing close to you — or even accepting your new role as their stepmom or stepdad — will mean a kind of betrayal of their other parent.
Creating and respecting boundaries, especially in the first few months, can give them the space they need to grow used to the new setup of the family. It can be a tough balancing act between cultivating a relationship and keeping a distance, but it’s a worthwhile effort in the long run.
Communication. Communication is a powerful tool in any family setting, but it can be especially important for a family that’s trying to adjust to a new and unfamiliar structure. Try to be as straightforward and honest with all the children in the household. Encourage them to share their own fears and inhibitions, so that you can work through them together.
Establishing trust. This can turn out to be the hardest but most important point of all. Trust is a key factor in any relationship, and by being consistent, confident, and respectful, you’re giving your stepchildren the space they need to get used to the change.
Reach out now
We are here to help you successfully navigate your blended family relationship. Call us now, or simply fill out the contact form, and press Send.