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
I’m newly married and this blended family thing, couldn’t be the worst thing that has evr happened. Prior to marrying my husband I had never dated a man wth kids, and I can say that probably was for the best. What happens when you enter into a marriage, and the person already has kids that do not accept you as their step mother. This is the problem I’m faced with, I agree that it takes time and patience for kids to open up to a stranger, but to never open and change is a problem. I came into the marriage with a open heart and open mind, not forcing my step kids to accept me, my husband was gun ho for his kids to like and accept me as mom, it didn’t happen. Now what do I do. Now since time has passed andmy husband has zero discipline for his children, its more than a notion being around them. I want so badly for this change, or I’m not sure we can make it as a couple. It saddens me to have think abou this, because my husband and I are total true soulmates, and I could not ask for a better spouse. The children are killing us, although m y husband is determined, he says not to let that happen. Without him standing his ground, out marriage is sure to fail. Help please with this situation.
YEP! Blending a family can actually be very difficult in some situations but challenging in all. I noticed that you said that you and your husband are “true soulmates”, then why give up on the fight. Children are in our home temporarily but your husband is your family unit that will be there when they are gone. Have you sought counseling? This is imperative because we need an “outside person” who is a professional to help us. Continue to talk to your husband about your issues without anger and don’t give up! It will get better.