Thursday, September 29, 2011

Being a stepmom in a blended family

Being a stepmom in a blended or step family is probably one of the toughest roles a woman can have. And for good reason. Being a stepmom requires you to take the role and responsibility of being a good wife to your new partner and a good stepmom to his kids while having your own kids to worry about. All this is uncharted territory not only to you, but also to them.

As a stepmom, you have a tremendous responsibility if you want to make things work in your blended family. It may seem overwhelming at first, but there are things you need to focus on to avoid the trap of making the wrong actions that would cause your blended family setting to fail.

·         Never make your husband choose you over the children. You are not competing with your step kids.
·         Take time to get to know your step kids – what they like, don’t like, or are interested in.
·         Be sure to recognize the special days and events in the lives of your husband’s children.
·         Treat your own children and step kids equally and make sure they see it.
·         When your step kids come to visit, don’t leave the sleeping arrangements to your husband, or let the kids figure things out on their own. As the step mom in a blended family, you need to make sure that the kids know they have a certain place to call their own when they come.
·         There should be the same set of rules for your children and your husband’s kids. A blended family means blended rules.
·         Allow your step kids to have friends over.
·         Be sure to give your step kids “alone time” with dad when they come for a visit.

Remember that when you choose a man who has children, you choose his kids as well. At the same time, you are promising to love and nurture them as you do your own children. They may not recognize and appreciate your efforts at first, but if you show consistency at it, they will know what you mean soon enough.

If you want to know how you can better take your role as a stepmom in a blended family, The Blended and Step Family Resource Center is a good place to start with. We offer counseling and coaching services to step parents who want to achieve balance in their blended family setting. Contact us today and start your way to a better blended family life.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

How to keep your blended or stepfamily intact

Couples who go through a divorce and remarriage experience a tough time of their lives. The same thing happens to their kids. In most cases, those involved often experience feelings of anger, resentment, frustration, and guilt. There are things that step parents can do to soften the impact and negative effects of the divorce and remarriage to their children, and eventually find a place in their new stepfamily.

1. Avoid negative talks. Refrain from speaking negative things about the children’s other parent, or better yet, about anybody involved in your blended family. Negative talks promote negative feelings, which is detrimental to the emotional health of your blended family.

2. Train your children. No children are expert blended family members – they have no user’s manual to refer to whenever they become confused with their situation. They only have your guidance to cling to in order for them to stay in line and live normal lives. They need to know that being in a blended or stepfamily is not a bad thing and that each member of the stepfamily has the responsibility to support each other.

3. Keep an open line of communication.  Encouraging your children to speak their minds about your stepfamily creates an atmosphere of openness and avoids buildup of concerns that may later explode and become more difficult to manage.

Divorce and remarriage often results in less than friendly situation for many people. Time-tested guidelines can help to keep a positive outlook and provide hope to better manage the negative effects of the situation. These guidelines help to a great extent in improving your chances of creating and keeping a strong and solid blended and stepfamily.

Do you need advice with your stepfamily? The Blended and Step Family Resource Center is the right place for you to find the help you are seeking. Avail of our counseling and coaching services which are aimed at helping you achieve the success that you long for with your blended and stepfamily.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Dealing with a death of a stepfamily member

If I am a part of a stepfamily but have a family of my own, am I under obligation to attend a stepfamily member’s funeral?

This is one question that, although quite complicated, you must have to deal with if you are a member of a stepfamily. It may be easy for some, but for others, it is much different. However, there are factors that may influence your decision when in a situation like this:

1.       The kind of relationship you have with the one who died. If your attendance at the funeral may cause any hard and unkind feelings towards the dead or those who are living, it may be prudent not to go. Otherwise, you need to keep in mind that attending the funeral is a way of honoring the dead stepfamily member as well as showing respect for the living relatives.

2.       Distance/proximity to your stepfamily. If you live close to members of your stepfamily, and it’s convenient for you to attend, do so. However, if distance becomes a hindrance to your presence in the event, make sure to do all that you can to convey your condolences.

3.       Conflict in schedules. Your attendance in your stepfamily’s funeral would probably be welcome to your stepfamily’s relatives and would do you good one way or another in terms of your relationship to the deceased and to the relatives. But if the event happens in conflict with a previously-set engagement that cannot be altered or rescheduled, that is beyond your control and is understandable. Again, make sure to send your condolences by sending a card or a bunch of flowers, and by making sure the family knows your heart goes out to them and you deeply regret not being able to attend.

Make all possible efforts to attend if you can, if only to preserve or reminisce the good memories you had with the deceased stepfamily member. Otherwise, the best way to handle this kind of situation is to be completely sincere and to do the right things at the right time. There are no fixed rules on how to deal with the death of a stepfamily member nor stepfamily funeral etiquette. The bottom line here is you can honestly say to yourself that you have made the efforts to be at peace with everybody.

If you need advice regarding how your family can better cope with the demands of a stepfamily life, The Blended and Step Family Resource Center offers telephone coaching services to provide you with useful ways to positively handle a stepfamily relationship. Avail of our resources and let us help you discover the difference.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Why some blended families do not get along and fail

The number of blended families in America is growing, and so are the problems associated with blended family living. Statistics show that the number of blended families today is twice the number ten years ago, and that more than 1,300 blended families are created each day. That’s a lot! But what is really alarming is that six out of ten of these blended families fail and eventually break up.

Why is it that more blended families fail than succeed? There are various reasons for blended families to become incompatible, but when you really try to look at it, to look past the arguing, the fighting, the yelling, and the finger pointing, it all comes down to two main problems:

  1. Selfishness. This is manifested when a parent, or both, wants their own personal agenda to prevail in the home regardless of the consequences. Parents may want their own child to get the best of everything and will constantly try, even obviously at times, to see that it is so.

  1. Lack of trust. This occurs when a biological parent will be on the lookout for a partner’s verbal and non-verbal expressions and actions that will be used to interpret any form of unfairness done towards them. This results in the non-biological parent’s feeling of being constantly watched and scrutinized. Often, misinterpretation is the product of this behavior, which would further lead to accusations and verbal assaults that would effectively create a gap between them.
Most blended and step families start out with affection and love, but eventually loose direction in the troubled waters of blended family life. The Blended and Step Family Resource Center has resources to assist those blended families having difficulty navigating the course towards a strong and successful blended family relationship. Call today and start your road to a more rewarding blended or step family life.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Is there a need to keep a balance in your step family?

Living out of balance is one of the most common issues in stepfamilies today.  One of the primary causes of divorce is when the parents live out of balance and put their main focus on the kids rather than their marriage.  Many marriages do not survive because couples fail to put their marriage in the center of their family life. This includes the blended family life. By learning and applying sound principles in your blended and step family home, you can create and keep a balance that is crucial to the success of your family relationship.

·         Find time for yourself.  To stay healthy and sane, you must schedule time for yourself.  If you keep running just to make sure that everyone in your step family is happy, you will soon forget yourself and burn out and be worthless to your family and to yourself. If you truly want to love your family, you need to learn how to love yourself. You will feel stronger physically, mentally and emotionally after you have regular times to renew your spirit, your soul and your body.  Your family will appreciate a stronger, healthier, and happier you.

·         Time to Relax. Take time to unwind from a busy day. Turn on the TV and watch your favorite talk show, read a good novel, drink a cup of tea or a glass of wine on your porch. If you are saying to yourself that you don’t have time for these things-, you’re wrong. Figure out what makes you calm and make room for these activities in your day. Include this in your “to-do” list every day. At least 1-2 times a month, take time to treat yourself by going shopping or doing something special- just for you.

·         Keep memories of special times. Find a box to keep special memories in. Put cards (birthday, mother’s day/father’s day, anniversary, thank-you notes) – anything you receive, that makes you feel good about yourself, into this box.  If someone gives you a compliment, write it down and put it in your box.  Periodically, go through your box and read these compliments and praises.

·         Spend time with your partner. Remember that you entered this marriage because you love your partner, saw a second chance at life, a chance to make things right this time, and have a great marriage. Spend time with your spouse!  Your marriage should be in the center of the family, not the kids. The two of you should connect daily, and plan at least a couple of times a month to get away from the kids and just enjoy life together. It doesn’t have to be an expensive, out of town vacation, it can be a quiet dinner, looking into your love’s eyes and just listening to them talk.  What’s important is that you are continuing to get to know your mate, pay attention to his or her interests, and make him or her your first priority.

·         Do your best with the kids. Take a couple of days to give one-on-one time to each child. Make it a special time so that they will look forward to it with excitement, even if it’s just once a week, in which they will go on an errand or activity with their parent and get some quality one-on-one time.

Your family is important- and creating a healthy balance means dedicating time to yourself, your spouse, parent/child time and blended family time.  This is not easy, but it’s crucial that you figure out and keep a balance for you and your step family. Providing your family with a stable and healthy environment for them to thrive and mature requires balance.

If you need help with your blended and stepfamily, The Blended and Step Family Resource Center has resources to offer, which are designed to help you and your family achieve a healthy and balanced life.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Why guidelines are important when an adult stepson moves in

A stepson who decides to move in with you and his biological father could present challenges to you and your stepfamily. To achieve and maintain harmony in your blended family, it is crucial to set boundaries and guidelines, so as not to leave room for misunderstanding and confusion. Discussing and having guidelines in place beforehand is key to a successful stepfamily living.

You and your partner need to agree upon and formulate the guidelines which you will have implemented in your home. These guidelines should be made with a disciplinary approach that eliminates misunderstanding and confusion about your expectations. You can start with the “who, what, when, where, and how” basics for your plan. Agree with your partner about the rules and expectations.

A good set of guidelines should include basic responsibilities in the home such as helping with meals and cleanup, laundry, and similar chores. Other rules may include curfew, use of the family car, smoking, drinking, and friends coming over. As an adult, your stepson should have the initiative to conduct himself accordingly in a decent and acceptable manner.

In addition to the guidelines, a plan should be setup for your stepson’s career goals and employment. No matter how hard things are with the economy, a consistent effort should be made to make this plan work which is aimed at his independence and, eventually, his own family life.

The Blended and Step Family Resource Center aims to help step families conquer the challenges of life in a blended family setting. A successful blended family life does not happen overnight nor is it easy. By adhering to proven principles that work, it becomes attainable when applied with consistency and discipline.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Blended family: Moving forward positively as a divorced and remarried mom

As a divorced mother who has remarried, you may find yourself being overwhelmed with a lot of changes in your life having to deal with a blended family. Remarriage is inevitable after a divorce and this will put you in a situation where drastic adjustments have to be made not only by you but by your kids. This goes the same for your new partner and step kids. By adhering to time-tested and proven rules for a successful blended family living, you will be on the road to achieving the kind of stepfamily life you want, where there is a complete adjustment for everyone involved, mutual understanding and respect, and happiness that is bound to last.

1.       Work as a team on the visitation schedule: Proper planning is key when it comes to visitation schedules. You also need to be flexible for changes and emergencies.

2.       Avoid sabotage: Being a parent of a blended family involves great responsibility. This means doing what is best for the children, rather than trying to exact a measure of a revenge for something that happened years ago before your divorce.

3.       Avoid negative comments: In a blended family, everyone has the responsibility to adapt accordingly and try to get along well with one another. Part of this responsibility is to avoid speaking negatively of anybody involved in the new family. This includes your children’s new step mom, who is responsible for the care of your children when they are at dad’s house.

4.       Choose a new partner for the right reasons: Your list for a new husband needs to be a little more specific now- because you aren’t just looking for a mate, but also someone to co-parent your kids. You need someone who is willing to begin, on day one, as part of a blended family and be willing to get to know and love your children as if they were his own.

5.       Don’t be needy: By needy means financially needy. Be considerate of your ex-husband’s legal financial obligations and do not oblige him for more.

It is important to focus on moving forward positively, and beginning life again with your new family. To have a stepfamily is to have another chance at married life with new challenges, which can give you an opportunity to be a more complete person as a wife to your new partner and a mother to your step kids. You and your spouse can provide a stable, loving home, and one that can help your kids adjust and move forward from the divorce and face other life changes more easily with your guidance and direction.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Achieving success in a blended family life.

A step family, also called a blended family, is not uncommon where about 7 in 10 remarriages include children from a previous relationship. However, the process of a family “blending” to begin a stepfamily is not always a smooth ride, in fact, it rarely is. In most cases, children resist the changes they have to deal with, while disappointment or frustration is common for parents like you when your expectations with your new family do not work.

A successful relationship with a blended family is a result of proper planning on your part, sufficient time for adjustment for everyone involved, realistic expectations, sound guiding principles, and the commitment to make things work and live together harmoniously. The creation of a healthy blended family life involves:
1.       Mutual respect
2.       Open and healthy communication
3.       Positive attitude
4.       Tons of love
5.       Patience that endures

Your divorce may have been difficult for you, but keep in mind that a stepfamily is new to you, your partner, your children, and your stepkids. As it is, there is a tremendous demand for emotional adjustment for everyone in the circle. Focusing on your new family is key to properly and quickly adjust to the relationship. By consistently upholding the right principles of effective blended family living, you too can achieve what others already have. Remember that to successfully live as blended family is difficult, but is not impossible.