by Carletta Henderson-Youngs
Change and transition are common in blended families. Every family member has to find a way to adjust to new roles, different expectations, and greater challenges. Often times it is easy to focus on adult matters, although children in blended families are equally affected. To make transitions easier and to strengthen the family bond, consider the following strategies for strong, healthy blended families.
- Be careful to confront the issues and concerns of everyone in the family. Allow children to ask questions about all the changes happening in their life and their family. Use this as an opportunity to discuss a better approach to managing problems without placing blame. Do not minimize anyone’s feelings. Instead, introduce coping strategies that promote forgiveness, healing and restoration.
- Remember you must take time to build and nurture love and trust in all relationships. Because some families expect love among family members to occur naturally when the blended family first forms, they feel disappointed when transition proves challenging. Allow every family member to have time to develop friendships. After you spend time together showing a regard and respect for one another, love and trust will develop as well.
- Learn the communication styles and love languages of all family members. Communication is how the family will share their thoughts, desires and feelings. Blended family success cannot occur without good communication. Effective communication allows you to care for and sustain the physical and emotional needs of one other, including all the children involved.
- Create new routines, traditions and expectations with consideration to every family member. Often times in forming a blended family, individual roles and routines cannot remain the same. To help make transition easier, promote full family involvement to develop new routines and new combined family traditions.
- Be flexible, creative and positive. Couples who demonstrate these traits are commonly stronger and healthier overall. Additionally, when these characteristics are present in marriages, couples manage conflict better which minimizes the overall impact the conflict could have on the family unit.
Managing transition is necessary when forming a blended family. Transition does not have to be a negative experience. The most important consideration to remember is that transition is relative to every family member, not just the couple.
BMWK: Please share with us your experiences from transitioning into a blended family. Did it take longer than you expected? Can you provide any additional helpful tips?
Carletta Henderson-Youngs is the author of Our Blended Family, God Revealed Lessons for Marital Success. She and her husband James share their personal experience as a blended family to strengthen couples and stepfamilies through marriage enrichment, premarital counseling, couples therapy, marriage mentoring and education. Follow her on twitter – @cyoungs