These days, blended families are more common than the standard nuclear family of two parents, two children and a cat and dog. Yes, blended families, where at least one parent has children that are not biologically related to another partner or spouse, are more common than ever all over the world.
However, although blended families might be extremely common, it does not mean that they don't come with their challenges. That's right, blended families can be extremely difficult to navigate, especially when it comes to more than one child. So, here are 10 tips to make blended families work.
10 Form Individual Relationships
This might sound rather obvious, but you would be surprised how many people seemingly forget to seek out friendships and find out similar likes and dislikes. It is extremely important to forge individual relationships with everybody in your family, not just your partner.
For instance, why not spend some one-on-one time with her children by simply taking them to a movie or doing an activity together. If you are finding it difficult to find something in common with them, try offering them a ride somewhere or helping them with their homework instead. Yes, individual time can really help ease the tension in an already tense environment.
9 Be Patient
Nobody said becoming a step-parent would be easy, especially when it involves numerous kids and a couple of ex-partners. Yes, blended families can be exceptionally challenging. However, if you put the work in, they can also be incredibly rewarding. So, how do you get to that stage?
The best thing to remember throughout the whole process is the ability to be patient. Remember to start slowly and make sure that you don't come on too strong, particularly in the beginning. First impressions are everything, so it is important that you play it cool rather than pressuring your new family or expecting them to like you straight away.
8 Family Meetings
Family meetings can be difficult to arrange, especially in a busy household. However, although they might be tedious, they are the savior of any blended family, as well as regular families. Family meetings are a great addition to any household and can help solve numerous problems and issues that may have gone undiscovered otherwise.
For instance, meetings allow all members of the family to have some kind of role in the house, which can be great for young children who might feel that they are not being listened to. Furthermore, family meetings give families the opportunity to catch up and check in on each other, something that can be rather difficult in larger households.
7 Keep On The Same Parenting Page
One of the most important rules of any blended family household is the idea that all parents, both current and ex-partners, should (or at least attempt to) stay on the same parental page handbook. For instance, when your partner says no, you must back them up, even if you might not agree with them.
That's right, Blended families will only work if everyone is on the same page and has the same eventual goal. If parents start making different choices and decisions, it will only backfire on you later down the line, and nobody wants that to happen.
6 Be Civil
Blended families are difficult for many reasons, from becoming a step-parent and introducing your children to another family, to forming new relationships and bonds with your partner's children. However, nothing can be more difficult than trying to navigate a relationship with your partner's ex, who also so happens to be the parent of your new step-children.
Yes, dealing with ex-partners can be horrible, but it is something that needs to be dealt with maturely and sensibly, even if they are (in your eyes) the worst person in the world. Plus, it is also important not to bad mouth them in front of their children, this will only come back to haunt you and it won't do anybody any good.
5 Know When To Be The Disciplinarian
One of the hardest things to deal with when it comes to blended families is knowing when to discipline and when not to discipline. Overall, the short answer is never, as this job should be left up to their parents. Yes, no matter how long you have known your step-children, disciplining them should often come from their parents only.
However, this doesn't mean staying quiet and fading into the background. You should still be involved with the punishment or the end result, but, depending on the specific dynamic, leave it up to their parents to dish out the bad news.
4 Embrace New Family Customs
One of the best things about merging families together and starting a new life together is the new family traditions that come with it. Yes, family customs are important because they show what is unique about your particular family, plus it helps family members bond as well as sharing something that only you guys have experienced.
A family wouldn't be a family without an odd family tradition, therefore it is vital that you help develop your own family customs. However, it is just as important to celebrate old family traditions that you may have not been a part of, as this shows a huge amount of respect and maturity.
3 Family Outings
Family outings are one of the best ways to develop friendships, bonds, and relationships within blended families, plus they are also really fun. That's right, spending time together as a family can give all members of the household an opportunity to talk, listen and share.
Not only does this help improve communication skills in both the short and long term, but regular family outings also give families the opportunity to simply spend some time together. Yes, in this day and age it can be easy to just do your own thing and get on with your own tasks, all while forgetting that anybody else is around, let alone lives in the same house.
2 Don't Take Things Too Seriously
Life is too short for serious conversations, negativity and "what if" problems. Sure, such things might be important sometimes, but it is also vital that the atmosphere inside your home is a happy one. For instance, it is a good idea to try and not take things too seriously; try loosening up and having fun instead of worrying about everybody and what they are thinking or doing.
Laughter is a great way to break the ice --especially with little ones-- and can help build relationships into friendships. That's right, physical play and humor is a wonderful way to release tension in an already tense household and can really bond blended families.
1 Don't Give Up
It is likely that it might just a get a little too much once in a while, especially in larger families with more children. You have weeks of good vibes and positivity in the house, only for it to come tumbling down within an instant. However, although it might seem like the end of the world, it really isn't.
That's right, dips in relationships and progress are only natural and it is likely that they will continue for the rest of your life. Yes, this might sound awful, but like any family, you will have good days and bad days. Hopefully, you will just get better at dealing with it and not taking things too personally.