Yours, mine, and ours, when two divorced parents with their own sets of children come together, is it really one big happy family? Not without a lot of work. Couples who plan to remarry may have a difficult road ahead especially when children are involved. A child’s loyalty to their absent mother or father can be really intense. At the same time a parent’s loyalty to their biological kids vs their step-kids can cause other problems. When families come together, kids are often caught in the middle. Children often walk the tightrope of trying to please both sets of parents. It’s important to be sensitive to the adjustments and challenges children face, rather than questioning why they can’t just be happy and make the family work.
Creating harmony in a blended family poses many unique challenges but one thing that helps is simply fostering time together. Set some time aside for a game or craft night that involves the entire family. If your family is athletic or wants to become athletic it’s great to join a team together and play, this can really help solidify the building of trust, but be fun as well. It’s important to keep everyone included and have family meetings or talks so everyone can voice their opinion and you can work together to resolve the issues. Having your problems build up without any attention is likely to cause a blow-up. Be fair and stay strong, make sure you don’t give more value to one child’s views over another although this may be hard for some because they tend to value their biological children over their step-children, even if unconsciously. Be aware that all of your children need to feel that they are still important and the spotlight is shared as equally as possible. Make sure chores are divided fairly and according to age.
Sit down and talk to your partner about the family rules you enforced in separate households and come up with a plan on blending those things together. This is sometimes difficult because everyone is a little different so make sure you fairly compromise as needed. Make a large chart and write down what the combined expectations are, so all of your children know the family rules, especially if any have changed. If two of your children are in a dispute, sit down with them and try to come to a compromise between the two of them, be clear with them by re-explaining the rules and expectations. Make sure you make the time to show your children how much you love them and tell them what you love about them. Makesure you tell them how happy your partner makes you feel and how everyone deserves happiness. You can also talk to other parents of blended families and discuss what worked best for them. Then if you feel it is needed, you can always consult a counselor who has experience with blended families. A little extra work and some patients can get everyone on the same team and moving toward one bigger, happy family, together.