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?
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.
Great post and tips T!
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.
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.
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.