7 Steps to a Well Blended Family

BY: - 14 Mar '14 | Blended Families

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I come from a family that was so well blended I wasn’t even aware that our family dynamic wasn’t the norm until I was at least in high school. The term blended family was new to me. Even though my parents each came into their union with children from previous marriages, my sisters were just my sisters and mommy and daddy were just that. I distinctly remember my mother saying “the only steps in our family are in the staircase”. My parents made this thing seem so easy that when I fell in love with a man who had pre-teen children, I just knew it would be easy breezy. I was wrong. I was pull out my hair, crying, screaming, looking for the escape hatch wrong. There are many reasons why my family failed to blend well, some within my control, some not, but hindsight is 20/20 and here’s a list of a few things I’d change if I could.

1. Have realistic expectations.  You probably won’t instantly love your new spouse’s kids (and vice versa) and they’ll see right through you if you fake it. Get to know them and let the love and affection develop naturally.

2. Don’t move too fast. Divorce is hard on kids (not matter what age). Successfully blending a family is more likely if the new couple waits a couple of years after a divorce to remarry.

3. Discuss parenting styles BEFORE you get married. My husband and I have very different views on parenting. Even though he’s 18 years my senior, I’m way more old school when it comes to the kids. Of course you can’t plan for every situation, but agreeing on how you’ll parent together makes for an easier transition and decreases the chance that the new spouse will be the target of resentment and blame for any changes that are made.

4. Resist the temptation to be the “cool” parent. This is especially important if the kids are only with you part time. Trips and gifts are fun, but the kids should understand that those are treats. Make an effort to incorporate the kids into your  ‘real’ life instead of just letting them experience the fun stuff.

5. Don’t choose sides… Or issue ultimatums. Kids will test parents; biological or not. It’s important that you and your spouse parent with a united front. Don’t make your spouse feel like they have to choose between you and their children. Likewise, don’t make your spouse feel like they come second to your kids.

6. They’re just kids. This is something that I’ve really struggled with. You will put a lot of time, energy and love, into the relationship with your new spouse’s kids. Don’t take it personally if those aren’t returned right away.

7. You don’t have to like me… But you do have to respect me.  At the end of the day, you can’t force your new spouse’s kids to like you, but in order for the family to even begin to thrive everyone MUST treat each other with respect.

What say you BMWK? What are some tips you have for successfully blending a family?

Also Checkout 5 Tips to Help You Transition into a Blended Family

About the author

T. Espinoza wrote 55 articles on this blog.

T. Espinoza is CEO at The Style Medic. She's the Diva next door, the girlfriend who always looks Fab but doesn’t spend a bundle. She works with the active, focused Diva who wants to look fly, save time and most of all, save money. T. can help you streamline your wardrobe, maximize your budget and take your style from flat-lined to FABULOUS!

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5 WordPress comments on “7 Steps to a Well Blended Family

  1. robin

    I am a blended family, I came into this 27 yrs ago with 2 boys then we had a daughter it wasn’t easy but if I had to do it all over again I would the kids are all grown and married with kids of their own so im saying all that to say blended families work.

  2. Broken

    What if your husband leave you because he things that you don’t care for his kids? He said I don’t interact with them and don’t do things with them. He told me that he doesn’t want any more kids especial after the way I treat them. I have always been taught you have to get respect in order to receive. His kids doesn’t respect me. I have discuss this with him. Nothing was done in front of me to make sure that everybody knows their respectable place. We got married been together for 5 and now has been separated for almost 9 months. He doesn’t call to say anything. He tells everybody that he left because I don’t like his kids. I’m at a point he left because he wanted to be with someone else.

  3. Anonymous

    This is hard for any family to do unless the biological parent puts their foot down and sets the standard that them and the spouse are one now and there is mutual respect required for them both. I married into a situation where the older kids were teenagers by the time I met them. They have a really hard time respecting me because they talk to their mother any kind of way. I came up old school where that was not allowed do when I say something about that i get looked at like I’m the bad guy. If the mother had just an inch of backbone and stood by my side when things like that happen, things would go a lot smoother. It’s like I’m on an island.

  4. Broken

    You are right !!! You know sometimes the father or mother have to let things go. If both have move on then let it go. My husband left because I didn’t interact with his kids. I feel I’m the adult not those kids. He never love me from the beginning. That’s how I feel. Everyday I’m getting closer and closer to get my strength back to say hey he has moved on with someone else. So I’m tried. It’s time for me to move on and try to expect that maybe God has someone in store for me. Or maybe this is a trail to see if I can deal with this situation. It hurts some much to know that I have place my love into this and he didn’t because he is looking for a safe haven for his kids. Not saying it’s nothing wrong with that.

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Blended Family Week: 5 Brilliant Strategies for Successfully Blending Families

BY: - 15 Sep '14 | Blended Families

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Everyone with children remarrying after divorce hopes to successfully blend their new spouse and all of the kids, whether his, hers or both into a loving, supportive, functional family. As many of us discover, the reality of blending families is a lot harder than it appears to be from the outside looking in.

While completing research for my book, Living Happier After: 20 Women Talk About Life After Divorce, I spoke with many women who had remarried following their divorces. They spoke of experiencing the full spectrum of emotions and family turmoil when combining the different children and everyone’s perspectives under the same roof. I also have personal experience working to blend children from my spouse’s first marriage and the children we birthed together during our 19-year marriage. In addition, through workshops, my blog, Facebook page and Twitter interaction I have communicated with hundreds of women remarried after divorce who are actively blending families and sharing their successes and failures so we all can learn and build better relationships.

I have compiled the 5 strategies that have consistently proven to help build productive and loving blended families. I share them with you in hopes that we can work together to build stronger communities, one blended family at a time.

1) Don’t Be Afraid to Get Professional Support

You obviously feel things have gone well during the dating and committed relationship period with your S/O, because you’re married or it’s on the horizon. But sometimes when children realize the woman or man in mom or dad’s life will be their new step-parent, things can change.

The children may wonder what this means for them and how their lives may change. If they live with you, they might be concerned about how this new step-parent will affect their day-to-day life. And if you are the non-custodial parent they may wonder if your new spouse will displace them in your life, and maybe they won’t see you as often.

Counseling is the overwhelming choice as the first strategy for building a blended family.

That’s why counseling is the overwhelming choice as the first strategy for building a blended family. Every remarried woman I spoke with that participated in even one premarital counseling session raved about the advantages they felt were gained from the experience. They felt as if they were making an educated decision, not just based on their love and desire to be together, but also the reality of what they were attempting to accomplish by combining their (respective) children into a new family dynamic. The counseling forced them to explore potential issues to ensure they were in agreement about critical parenting concepts. Everything from decisions about discipline to finances, from child support to college tuition were subjects on the table for discussion.

Make sure you and you new spouse are starting off on the same page from a parental perspective. Talking to a neutral and knowledgeable therapist or counselor can give your relationship and your blended family a big advantage.

2) The Biological Parent Must Spend Time with His/Her Biological Kids Alone

Children need to spend time with their biological parent without the new spouse on a regular basis. This is important because kids need to continue to build a strong relationship with that parent. If all family time includes the new spouse this can contribute to a child’s feeling that the new marriage is changing their relationship with their biological parent. Alone time with their biological parent is critical to their emotional well-being.

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