Earlier this week I wrote a post titled 4 Must-Have Conversations Before You Get Married. It’s been very well received with lots of comments, views and social shares on sites like Facebook but there was one comment that moved me the most. A reader named “Catehess” mentioned that additional conversations were necessary in blended family situations. That comment sparked my idea to create another post dedicated just to my blended families out there. You know that you have a special place here in BMWK so I thought that was a great topic and wanted to dedicate a list of necessary conversations before marriage just to you. Follow along below and let us know if we left anything out in the comment section.
1. Do they have a _________ parent roaming around somewhere? That blank can stand for a lot of things: biological, crazy, senseless, drama-filled, simple or even good things like caring, responsible or loving. But be prepared for the first batch of adjectives and find out what you’re up against. If they have a Looney Tunes biological parent that’s fine as long as you know what you’ve signed up for. I’ve seen it happen on a few occasions where the step-parent was ambushed once they got into the marriage by external drama that their spouse probably knew would happen. If their biological parent falls into the second group it would be great to start forming a team upfront where each member plays their part to ensure the best outcome for all of the children who are involved. We had a great example of that in our 3rd film Men Ain’t Boys. Two men who co-parent their daughter on an amazing level. The two of them combined with their daughter’s mom, form a trio that ensures that she has everything that she needs in order to succeed.
2. How will discipline be handled? Discipline is a tricky subject even in non-blended families. When you add that extra dynamic into the situation it takes it to an entirely different level. Most people view discipline through a lens in which they were disciplined as children and how they think that worked out. Since we were all raised differently it’s common for a couple to view discipline differently. In blended families the non-biological parent can be put into a situation where they are constantly judged on whether they would treat their child the same way. I’ve heard many different schools of thought on how a couple should handle this situation but honestly I think it’s something that depends on the couple and on the child. You have to do what works for you and your relationship. For more info on discipline in a blended family check out this post that Ronnie wrote a while back.
3. What happens if everything isn’t perfect right away? A few years ago we attended a marriage conference called Smart Marriages. During the conference Ronnie attended a session on blended families. During the session she was surprised to find out that it could take 3x’s the child’s age for them to come around to accepting the new family structure. Of course this meant the older the child the longer it will take. You’ve already heard it a million times before but here it is again – The Brady Bunch was some made for TV mess. It can happen like that but normally it doesn’t, especially with older children. The conversation you need to have upfront is what will happen if things aren’t perfect? Contrary to popular belief some kids will try to break your marriage up. Will you be able to keep it together? Will you allow cracks in the foundation of your marriage? Will you keep trying to make it right or will you walk away from your relationship and your newly formed family at some point?
These are just three of many conversations that you can have prior to blending a family but hopefully they’ll head you in the right direction. BMWK family, what conversations did we miss? What would you add to the list? What difficulties have you encountered that you wish you had talked about?