Remember the Brady Bunch? When the show came on it played that much too familiar song that went something like… “Here’s a story of a lovely lady… and a man named Brady … and that’s the way they ALL became the Brady Bunch… ” In that perfect square with that perfect house and all six kids coming together in harmony.
Every episode ended in a resolution to whatever problem went on for that day. No matter what, the Brady’s worked it out didn’t they?
And so my fantasy perception of the blended family began. Little did I know that REAL blended families come with problems and issues, and other parents, and extended family and non biological kids, etc. After all, the Brady’s never seemed to worry about finances, custody, child support or bitter ex’s did they? I never saw Marsha, Jan and Cindy’s real father. They rarely even spoke of him or Peter, Greg and Bobby’s mother. Were they dead? Who knows. What we know now is that blended families are a lot more complex than we ever imagined.
Almost 2,100 blended families form in the United States every day and 68% of re-marriages involve children from prior marriages according to TheBondedFamily.com
Blended families come with a lot of layers and its not gonna be a “Brady” experience for everyone. One of the main things that I think that should be the focus when families connect themselves together through marriage are the kids. The children are going to be the only people in the whole situation who have no choice. They don’t get to choose who their mom or dad marries. They don’t get to choose the children that come along with that marriage.
When my husband and I chose to blend our families we were hoping it would be a piece of cake, but realized that we had to put in work. All we were certain of is that we loved each other and that we wanted it to work. My youngest son adapted pretty quickly to my new marriage and our new life in a different state and was comfortable from the beginning, but my oldest son…not so much. For him it took awhile. What we understand now is that younger children do adapt better in these situations. Here are 3 of the steps that we took for our blended family.
Decide on what the child should call the new parent
I don’t think you should force a kid to call another man/woman by mom/dad. If everyone is cool with it, then by all means make it happen. We gave ours a choice. One son calls my husband dad sometimes. The other refers to him as dad, but calls him by his nickname that we all use. Not a big issue for us.
Have a conversation with the child’s other parent
My husband and my sons father get along great. I believe that is because they had a necessary conversation about discipline, respect and expectations for our son in the beginning. They were on the same page so there was never any drama. Allow the other parent to have some say so. Discuss it and work it out no matter what.
Make your child understand that the new parent has authority
Sometimes as single parents we may tend to be a little more lenient on our kids. Or maybe you are more strict. When a new parent comes in some kids may think of them more as a friend/enemy but not as an authority figure. Younger children adapt easier than older ones but if you let them know upfront the adjustment will be easier.