Blended families make up a large percentage of families in today’s modern society, with over half of all remarriages including children from one or both new partners. While it should feel encouraging to newly blended or soon to be blended families, many families aren’t prepared for the issues and hard work that come with blending two families. But, with a little planning, support, and patience, blending can actually work out well for all involved. Here are a few tips on how to make the journey a little less daunting.
Communication is A Must
Both families must communicate with one another, parents and children included. The jumbled mass of feelings and fears each member brings into the new blended family need to be addressed and respected by all involved. Family meetings structured so that each member can feel safe to express his or her feelings and have them heard can eliminate some of the tension and arguing which often can occur.
Strive for Equity
It’s easy to mistake fairness for equity, especially when parents each bring their own children into the blended family. Jealousy, feelings of betrayal, and unfairness can lead to major conflict in the house, making all involved miserable. If both parents establish a firm understanding with all children that each child will get what he or she needs or deserves, those conflicts can be avoided the majority of the time.
Take a Team Approach
It is essential that both parents in the blended family pose a united front when establishing rules and guidelines for the household, and it becomes even more critical that both follow through as a team. Nothing creates more resentment and anger than when one parent favors his or her child or children over the other spouse’s child(ren), or enacts as stronger punishment for the same choice made by two different children.
Very few come into a blended family situation with all the knowledge and expertise to make it work. Even those who have personal experience with blended situations before the marriage brings the new family together cannot know and plan for every situation and conflict that arises. Being patient and taking on an attitude of forgiveness when one approach or attempt at blending doesn’t work creates an environment and opportunity to figure out together as a family what didn’t work, where the conflict lies, and how the situation can be corrected and improved next time.
Blended families can work with patience, time, and a willing attitude to find points of compromise and improvement. Occasionally, there are times that despite the best effort of all involved, things just aren’t working the way they should. This is when it may be beneficial to bring in an objective point of view and extra support to iron out the kinks. If you and your family find yourselves in this situation, please contact us to find out how we can help you work through those issues.