Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Blended families find success in new marriage with loving and open hearts!

Blended family success is not a guarantee, but can be improved when parents open the doors of communication with children and put their new marriage at the center of the stepfamily. When two adults meet and fall in love the natural path is to marriage. If one or both adults have children from previous relationships they are creating a blended family or stepfamily. Though these adults may be madly in love, the feeling may not be mutual with stepkids who may in fact not like the new stepmom or stepdad at all, and may even feel threatened by their presence. Blended family success is achieved when parents realize its unique challenges and talk with children about concerns and expectations.

All you need is love!
Blended family success is supported when parents communicate that the love they had for their children before the remarriage has not diminished by the addition of the new stepparent and stepkids. When parents remarry, children may feel as if the parent does not love them as much as they love their new partner, and jealous feelings can emerge. When parents reach out every day to let their child or children know they are loved and valued, they no longer feel a need to compete in the stepfamily for affection. Stepmoms and stepdads can also remind children that there is enough love in their hearts to share with them, and that they hope it will help them grow as a family. Blended family success is an opportunity to give and receive more love.

Who is this stranger in my home?
Blended family success is a process that takes time and patience. Adults have had time to get to know one another, but children sometimes have not had that same sort of relationship building during the adult courtship. Remarriage can feel strange and confusing to stepkids. Stepkids may think they are in competition with the stepmom or stepdad, and view that person as the enemy. Giving children time to adjust to this new and sometimes uncomfortable situation is important. They should always be respectful and friendly, but also need space to get to know the new spouse. Stress to stepkids that stepfamilies are not about competition, and stepmoms and stepdads are not replacing a biological parent, or taking a biological parent away. As well, stepparents are not competing with a spouse for the affections of stepkids. Blended family success will flourish in a stepfamily that relaxes into the new relationship and gets to know one another.

Structure essential to blended family transition
Success in a blended family is not guaranteed, especially if the adults do not require that the children respect them. Every adult in the home, including step parents, should be respected by the children.
Establishing family rules and discussing these rules with biological children and stepkids will let everyone know the stepfamily expectations and show children a united front in your remarriage. Adults, regardless of whether they biological parents, or stepmom and stepdad, are always in charge of children. Secrets between parents and children or stepparent and stepkids can be destructive, so always keep your spouse in the loop when it comes to rule making and rule breaking. Sometimes, parents may feel children have already experienced huge upheaval with divorce, and hesitate to put more rules on them. This is a mistake. Children thrive with structure, especially when there are big changes, and will appreciate establishing and maintaining a routine in this time of transition. Blended family success begins with parental leadership.
Marriage is the heart of the family
The path to blended family success is not smooth, but a strong marriage that is nurtured and stable will help smooth the path. Marriages that put children at the center of the family are not often successful because couples lose focus of the loving relationship that created the family in the first place. In our busy lives it is easy to forget a spouse needs to be shown as much attention and love as the children. Even spending a few minutes alone every night before bed, talking about your day or going over plans for the next day, will contribute to a closer relationship and strengthen the stepfamily. Taking two or three nights a month alone with your spouse and going on a date night will even further add to the bond that you are building through remarriage. Children and stepkids thrive within a stable and strong marriage. Blended family success ultimately hinges on whether or not your marriage remains at the center of the stepfamily.

Blended family success is achieved when biological parents and stepmoms or stepdads open their hearts and keep open the lines of communication with stepkids. Stepkids and biological children in a stepfamily need to know they are loved and not in competition with stepmoms and stepdads. Establishing rules and maintaining structure helps stepkids know adult expectations and gives them a sense of order in a sometimes difficult and uncomfortable situation. Putting a marriage first, with loving adults at its center, is the key to building a stable and strong stepfamily, and can make a difference in whether or not you bring about blended family success.

The Blended and Step Family Resource Center has resources to help blended and stepfamilies, including licensed professional counselors who offer coaching and counseling to blended and stepfamilies, as well as those engaged to be married and become blended families. Founded in 2006 by internationally known author and conference speaker, Shirley Cress Dudley, the center focuses on the need for effective counseling and other resources aimed at helping blended and stepfamilies become strong and successful.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Stepkids can help healing process with comforting words and gestures at stepparent death

When a stepparent dies it is sometimes difficult for stepkids to know how to react, or what role to take in the mourning process. When stepkids have moved out of the house and started their own families it can be even more complicated. Blended family members who see each other only at holidays or special events will face different expectations from the stepfamily, than those who are bonded and share a close relationship.

Step-siblings appreciate comforting words and gestures at stepparent death
Whether or not a stepchild attends a stepparent’s funeral depends upon the level of blending in the stepfamily. If there are strained relations between step-siblings or if the adult stepkid has not spent a lot of time participating in family events, then it is perfectly acceptable to make a phone call to the family and share your condolences, send flowers and follow-up with a heartfelt card. However, if the family is close and the adult stepkid is able and welcome to attend, then by all means be there for the blended family. Letting step-siblings know that your heart is with them at their time of loss, whether you attend the funeral or not, is always a comforting gesture.

Funerals a time for honesty and open hearts
Sometimes, conflicts arise and even the closest of family members are unable to attend a loved one’s funeral. If a stepfamily has a close relationship and stepkids wish to honor their stepparent by attending the funeral, then that is wonderful! If, on the other hand, stepkids are not close to the blended family or there is animosity between step-siblings, then it may be best to not attend the funeral as it can only add to anxiety. If you are an adult stepkid who is part of a well-blended family, but a scheduling conflict with work or military service, or illness prevents you from attending, don’t be too hard on yourself. Conflicts happen, and people will understand. Make sure to phone step-siblings well in advance to let them know you are unable to attend, but mention that your heart is with them at this difficult time, then follow-up with a card or flowers. Opening our hearts when a stepparent dies can heal animosities and mend old grudges, and bring much-needed comfort during this sad and stressful time.

Stepparent death is as difficult to deal with as any other loss, sometimes even more so, but it need not create more stress than necessary. If adult stepkids don’t see the blended family more than a few times a year at holidays or special get-togethers, then it probably is okay to not attend the funeral. However, you should phone step-siblings and follow-up with a card or flowers for the funeral, or even make a donation to the stepparent’s favorite charity. Reaching out beyond the physical and emotional distance in a blended family, while keeping in mind that funerals are as much for the living as it is about those who have passed, will help you know which choice to make in the event of stepparent death.

For additional information about issues with your blended and step family, The Blended and Step Family Resource Center is willing to share advice and useful tips to help you deal with various situations relating to your blended family.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Remarriage is not a battleground when children are involved

Remarriage can be difficult, especially when hard feelings linger from a divorce. Sometimes parents will talk negatively about stepparents, or tell children they shouldn’t love the new stepmom or stepdad. This negative talk is confusing and unhelpful for children in a blended family. Remarriage should never be a constant battle for children’s affection, but rather an opportunity to show them how much love it is possible to give.

Remarried parents who take higher ground win the battle
When divorced spouses remarry it can sometimes trigger hostility toward the new stepdad or stepmom, especially if the divorce was tense and volatile. Sometimes, stepparents in a blended family feel as if they have to constantly defend themselves, playing a tit-for-tat game with the biological parent. When a biological parent tells a child he shouldn’t like or accept the new stepparent, or when the biological parent talks negatively about the blended family, it is very confusing. The last thing a child of divorce needs is to feel confused about the stepfamily situation or feel as if he or she has to take side. When faced with this dilemma, stepmoms or stepdads should let the child know that the behavior is not okay, while staying supportive of the biological parent’s role. Tell the stepchild, “Although we disagree with your mother [or father], we know that she [he] loves you.  We love you and want what's best for you.” This lets the child know that the adult’s behavior is not okay and reinforces that the child is loved. Remarriage and divorce are adult situations and children should never have to participate in negative talk about biological parents and stepparents.

Remarriage is not a competition
Behaving as a spoiled child and demanding love and attention over a stepmom or stepdad is never okay. If your blended family is having difficulty with a biological parent pressuring your stepchild or stepchildren to show them favoritism or more attention during school events, it is okay to address the situation with your stepkid, preferably in a neutral place and time. Stay positive about the biological parent and his or her irreplaceable role in the child’s life, and stress that you love the child too, and that this is okay. Remarriage does not have to be filled with constant conflict and stepparents take the high ground will help calm the rough waters.

Be the normal parent!
Remarriage that brings on hostile attacks and negative talk from the biological parent should be explained to children by acknowledging the jealous or destructive behavior without condemning the source. Let the stepchild know that adults get jealous sometimes, just like children, but that there is enough love to go around for everyone. Remind children that stepparents have enough love to help raise them to be successful people, and strive to set a good example as the constant, normal parents. Remarriage is not about winning over the child, it is about helping them understand what is going on around them in a calm and collected manner. Reinforce the blended family expectations and discuss how difficult it is for adults to deal with the complicated emotions of divorce and remarriage.

If you need advice with your blended or stepfamily, The Blended and Step Family Resource Center is ready to assist you with its counseling and coaching services, as well as other resources aimed at promoting strong and successful blended and stepfamilies. Contact us today and let us help to provide you with answers.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Keeping the house rules when adult children return to the blended family

Even adult children returning home to a blended family benefit from some rules and boundaries, according to The Blended and Step Family Resource Center in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Adult stepchildren graduating from college today face a tough job market in which to succeed.  College kids are returning home, for a place to stay until they can launch their careers. Even tougher, are the kids who return to a blended family, one with a new step parent and step siblings. According to The Blended and Step Family Resource Center, boundaries and rules established and agreed upon, before adult stepchildren return to the nest, are essential for the successful blended family. Adult stepchildren can function well living at home with stepparents when presented with clear expectations.

Focus on the positive in your blended family
Focus on the positive when adult children ask to return home. Adult children, in most cases, don't want to ask biological parents if they can move in with a stepfamily, and you might consider it a compliment to your successful remarriage when they do. Clearly, your adult child feels comfortable living with the stepparent, and that is flattering. The Blended and Step Family Resource Center recommends that stepmom or stepdad acknowledge the compliment, and make sure to let the adult stepchild know you are eager to spend more time with him. As well, after the biological parent and stepparent agree upon a set of rules and boundaries, biological parents should lead a discussion about them with the adult stepchild in advance of the move-in date. Adult stepchildren are often willing to comply with rules when they know biological parents and stepparents are happy to have them around.

Rules and boundaries should be reasonable and consistent
Adult stepchildren are, technically, adults, and should be treated as such. However, according to The Blended and Stepfamily Resource Center, and author Shirley Cress Dudley, the adult stepchild who has returned home and is dependent upon the biological parent and stepmom or stepdad, should obey and respect parental authority. Rules and boundaries agreed upon in advance could include guidelines for
-dining and laundry
-a discussion of career plans
-an agreement to actively search and find a job by within a set period
-housekeeping chores
-an agreement to pay rent after six months
-an agreement to a raise in rent after 12 months
-guidelines for guests
-an expectation of quiet after a designated time or else a curfew will be
-and an expectation that adults will be treated with respect.

Other discussion topics could include the use of an auto as well as guidelines for gas, insurance, and upkeep; smoking, drinking and girlfriend or boyfriend visits; as well as private time for parent and stepparent. Adult stepchildren who bend or even break established rules should be held accountable with another scheduled family meeting.

Road to independence should be paved with love and encouragement for your adult child
Adult stepchildren moving home is not unusual in light of the job market, and he or she should not be made to feel as if they have failed at adulthood. This won't help a stepchild and it certainly won't bode well for the blended family. Once rules and boundaries have been agreed upon in a stepfamily, welcome and encourage your adult stepchild into the remarriage. Make sure he spends individual time with his biological parent and offer positive support in his job search. Stepchildren, especially adult stepchildren, need their own space, and should be afforded privacy and respect of their belongings by other stepkids. Adultstepchildren who return to the home may need extra help on the road toindependence; stepmoms and stepdads who are part of that journey pave the way to a smooth stepfamily existence.

Adult stepchildren who return home are an unfortunate result of the economic downturn, but it doesn't have to be a miserable experience. The Blended and Step Family Resource Center recommends biological and stepparents discuss and agree upon rules, before the adult stepchild moves in. An adult stepchild is usually amenable to parental guidelines when the discussion is led by the biological parent and assisted by the stepparent. Adult children who return home to a blended family can find success and independence within a remarriage when expectations are clear and rules are well planned.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Blended families are all compatible with love and care, says The Blended and Step Family Resource Center!

The blended family and stepfamily that finds the most success is one with committed parents at the helm who love and respect each stepfamily member as unique individuals. Some blended families are together for years and still don't find themselves compatible. It is not easy for two different families to come together, especially when stepkids are adults and beginning their own families. The blended family, just like any other family, needs clear guidelines and expectations communicated from the start to ensure success.

Blended family with adult stepkids faces unique challenges
The blended family with adult stepkids may not seem to blend as readily as with underage children because the adult stepchild has moved out and moved on with her life, possibly having her own children. Divorce is difficult at any time in life, and a stepmom or stepdad can be a particular challenge for adult stepkids to accept when they are no longer at home and experiencing the remarriage process. It is okay for an adult stepchild to not feel bonded with a stepfamily, but it isn't okay to not respect the stepparent as their parent's spouse. When grandchildren are involved, it can be confusing for them to see other grandparents treated differently; it merely limits the love for the stepkid and their children, not the stepmom or stepdad. The blended family has enough love to include adult stepkids and their spouses and children.

Fair and equal treatment of children essential for compatibility
The blended family works best when all children receive a fair amount of attention and equal treatment by adults. Parents should communicate clear rules and guidelines to children, and remind stepchildren to treat them and each other the way they wish to be treated. It's best not to have different rules for different children. When rules and guidelines are established and enforced fairly between all children in a remarriage, the stepfamily functions as one unit. When house rules are broken, the biological parent should always enforce the rules with the support of the stepparent. Children should show respect for stepsiblings and stepparents at all times, and rudeness should never be tolerated. According to The Blended and Step Family Resource Center, a blended family falling into all out war is never the fault of the child.  It is the responsibility of the parents to communicate rules and expectations.

Blending not a matter of personality or incompatibility
The blended family is like any other family, rife with unique personalities that sometimes clash. When children are born, parents are immediately bonded with that child no matter how challenging the personality; it should be no different for a stepfamily. However, as biological parents may sometimes not like their child's behavior or specific personality traits, the same can be said for the blended family. BFA says that love and acceptance from a stepmom or stepdad goes a long way toward forging a bond with stepkids in a blended family.

The blended family is a unique group of individuals, coming together to create a new family unit. Sometimes it appears that some stepfamilies never accept their members as family, no matter how long they have been together. Divorce and remarriage can be difficult for adult stepchildren to embrace, but whether they do is ultimately their choice. Communication regarding clear expectations and rules in a blended family helps ensure fair and equal treatment, as well as respect for stepsiblings and stepparents. The blended family is no different than any other family, with unique personalities coming together, but The Blended and Step Family Resource Center says it can be successful with loving and supportive adults at the helm.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Stepmothers can go from wicked to wonderful following simple steps from the Blended and Step Family Resource Center

Stepmothers face a challenging new role when marrying a man with kids. Marriage or remarriage in a blended family presents complications for stepmoms, particularly when it comes to avoiding the wicked stepmother label. Stepmothers who are open to taking positive steps can make the difference between being called wicked or wonderful.

How do you know if you are a wicked stepmother?
Stepmothers do not usually come into the job with a set of rules or guidelines regarding how to parent step kids. Often, innocent mistakes are made by stepmoms in an attempt to gain some sort of footing within the family. Here are some clues from the BFA that may be earning you the title of wicked stepmother: If you ask your husband to choose between you or his kids; you don’t know much about your step kids; you don’t celebrate step kids’ birthdays or other special events; you interrupt your husband when he is on the phone with his kids; you treat your kids better than his kids; you leave his kids to fend for themselves when they visit; you have different house rules for his kids and your own kids; you don’t let your step kids invite friends over; you ask your husband to take you out to dinner on his child’s birthday, and celebrate with his kid another day. Stepmothers should pay special attention to these clues and decide if they need to make some changes.

Stepmothers face difficult challenges with long-term rewards
Stepmothers have one of the hardest jobs in the world. According to The Blended and Step Family Resource Center, marrying a man with kids means you commit to love and care for them as your own. Stepmothers who make that commitment also should understand they may not be appreciated by their step kids for awhile, or ever, but it should not diminish how important the success of the blended family remains.

Competition best kept on field and out of home
Stepmothers sometimes feel as if they are in competition with step kids, but there could be nothing further from the truth. In reality, the love between two adults is much different than their love for kids, and there is plenty of love for everyone in a blended family. Creating and sticking with house rules will set the tone for a stable home. Stepmoms who work with their spouse as a team to surround the kids in a remarriage with love and security, will create a peaceful, positive environment for their stepfamily.

Step kids need to feel part of new family
Stepmothers who take a sincere interest in their step kids’ lives will find themselves building a positive relationship with all parties. Stepfamilies are like any other families, forging bonds by celebrating birthdays and special events together to build a unique blended family life. When stepmothers recognize their step kids’ special events, they reap the rewards of a more stable and positive home life.

Privacy means a lot in blended family
Stepmothers who offer step kids privacy while visiting can help kids feel at home in a blended family. Though a private bedroom is ideal, BFA recommends that stepmoms offer kids a secure place to keep things and a space to hang out. Just like in any other family, kids need time alone with individual parents to build deeper and more meaningful relationships. Sensitive stepmothers understand that step kids need individual time with fathers while visiting, and can take that time to bond with their own children or enjoy some time for themselves.

Stepmothers can avoid being labeled wicked by taking a few simple steps to build positive relationships with step kids. Getting to know step kids by taking an interest in hobbies and activities goes a long way toward forging connections in a blended family. Stepmoms should never feel in competition with step kids. Everyone needs privacy, especially in a blended family. Stepmothers should respect and encourage individual time between step kids and their fathers. Stepmothers needing more information on how to lose the wicked stepmother label can find more information at The Blended and Step Family Resource center at http://www.TheBlendedandStepFamilyResourceCenter.com.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Simple rules for divorced moms help ease anxiety of divorce

Divorced moms often find themselves navigating difficult waters following divorce. When children are involved, the waters become even murkier, especially when communicating with an ex-spouse is stressful, or when there is a new partner involved. Divorced moms can make the transition easier on themselves and their children by following simple rules when communicating with an ex-husband.

Divorced moms should communicate with ex-spouse briefly and specifically 
Divorced mothers need to communicate with an ex-husband, but how much is too much, and what is it okay to discuss? These are difficult questions, especially if there is a remarriage or hurt feelings. An ex-husband is the father of your children, and after a divorce that is the extent of the relationship. House repair questions or even calling to chat about your day is no longer okay. Divorced moms should make it a rule to communicate only about the kids. One phone call a day to an ex-husband is considered excessive. Unless there is an emergency, divorced moms can make communication with an ex-spouse even easier by e-mailing or texting.

Divorced moms can set tone for positive relationship when co-parenting
Divorced moms who are co-parenting children with an ex-spouse can follow some simple rules to make the experience less stressful for everyone involved. Never speak negatively about an ex-husband is an important rule for moms to remember. Negative talk is confusing for children, and traps them in the middle of marital issues. Sending messages between children and an ex-husband is never okay. Going through divorce and living with visitation between two houses is a huge change for children. Mom and Dad should not involve kids in adult arguments and discussions. Children are suspicious of any questioning from parents about an ex-spouse, and though it is okay to ask if they had a good time, the question should be brief, met with a smile, and then mom should move on to another topic. Divorced moms need to remember that their children want to know it is okay to have fun with Dad, too.

New partners mean more people to love
Divorced moms, at some point, may have to deal with the reality of an ex-husband’s new partner. Children of divorce do not want to feel as if they have to choose sides, and Mom can ease that transition by remembering that an ex-spouse’s new partner will also be caring for her children when they are at Dad’s house. Speaking negatively about step-mom will only confuse children and interfere with building healthy relationships. Most importantly, divorced mothers should be open to finding a new partner for themselves who meets not only their needs, but is also willing to get to know, love and care for step kids. 

Follow new schedules and honor special events
Divorced moms often contend with new schedules, especially around the holidays. Mothers who sabotage family get-togethers by bringing children well fed to Thanksgiving dinner or arriving late at Dad’s house for an important, scheduled event, are not hurting the ex-spouse or step-mom, but are hurting the children. A well-planned visitation schedule that respects both parents is the best course of action for avoiding conflict. Divorced moms should call ex-husbands right away when an emergency arises that interferes with visitation plans.
Divorced moms can help ease the pain and confusion of divorce by following simple rules with an ex-spouse. Communication with ex-husbands should be brief and specific. Negative talk about Dad is confusing to children, and divorced mothers should never ask children to relay messages to an ex-spouse, or grill their children about activities during visitation. New partners mean more people to love, and negative talk about step-moms only harms relationships. Moms should seek partners who are willing and able to love and accept step kids. Sticking to an agreed upon visitation schedule will help Mom and Dad avoid conflict. Divorced Moms who focus on their children will find these rules easy to follow, and ease the stress of divorce.

If you need help with your blended or stepfamily, The Blended and Step Family Resource Center is ready to assist you with its counseling and coaching services, as well as other resources aimed at promoting strong and successful blended and stepfamilies. Get in touch with a licensed professional counselor today and let us help to provide you with answers and hope.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

How to successfully co-parent in a stepfamily or blended family

Your divorce is official and you have entered remarriage and created your own blended family. However, your ex-spouse will still be in your life. You will need to maintain contact in the interest of your children. Co-parenting with an ex isn’t easy, but is important to the mental well-being of your children.

Keep Your Sanity
Your ex will probably have strange and sometimes inappropriate feelings and emotions, and it is important to not take any of it personally. Try to separate yourself from that and not let it bother you. Even if something has caused a screaming fit from your ex, don’t respond in the same way, just ignore it and let those feelings go.

Keep Your Focus
When you talk to your ex-spouse, it should be focused on your children, and nothing else. Daily activities do not have to be discussed. There is no need to discuss your step kids, your blended family, or anything at all that doesn’t involve the children you share with each other. The only relationship and thing in common you have now is your children.

Keep Yourself Organized
Maintain a detailed visitation calendar. Your separation agreement should lay out the visitation schedule, and barring an emergency, this should be adhered to. Try to plan for special events well in advance. Your kids and step kids need structure and knowing where they will be and when is a good start. A pocket calendar makes a nice gift for each kid, so they can keep track on their own.

Keep Things Fair
Keep your personal feelings out of it. By arranging time for your children to be with both mom and dad, you are acting in their best interests. Don’t make excuses to avoid visitation time and don’t schedule events that will cheat your ex out of time.

Also, make sure to alternate holidays each year, or come up with a different plan that works for everyone. Kids don’t mind switching days, so it isn’t a big deal to celebrate Christmas a week late, or have their birthday party the weekend before their actual day. The point is to enjoy being together as a blended or step family.

Keep Things Flexible
Things do occasionally happen at the last minute, and you should be flexible enough to allow your ex to make any last minute changes. You would expect the same, wouldn’t you? Of course, if it starts to occur regularly, then you may need to lay down the law and put a stop to it. Notice of about a month is sufficient, but both parents should be willing to be flexible to emergency changes.

Co-parenting with your ex-spouse should focus on the kids, so encourage them to keep you in the loop as far as upcoming events. Remaining an active participant in your kid’s lives is still as important as it was when you were married to their other parent.

The Blended and Step Family Resource Center aims to encourage, educate, and empower blended and stepfamilies and help them become strong and successful through its counseling and coaching services as well as other resources available. To get the help that you need, get in touch with our licensed professional counselors and we will help you find solutions and hope.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A blended family expert answers a common concern of a mom in a step family

This is a real question from a mom in a blended family: 
I have a couple of daughters, aged nine and 12. My future spouse has two kids of his own, a 12-year-old girl and a boy who is eight. We both have alternating custody with our ex, allowing or children to be together on the same weekends. They attend the same school as well, so our future step family is together a lot. Things have gone well, up until lately. My 9-year-old daughter has started to be rude to her soon-to-be step dad, and it hurts him. She has told him that she won’t listen to him because he isn’t her parent, and even my other daughter has recently joined in on the attack against him.

He is a great dad, and does a wonderful job trying to make my kids feel special and welcome. We already function as a blended family, but my kids are lashing out now, and I’m not sure how to handle it. They say they like him, but I’m not sure how that’s possible with how they treat him. My youngest daughter will make a mean face at him when we hug or kiss and she squeezes between us on the sofa. We plan to enter remarriage within a year, and move in together soon after. How can I make my kids show their future step dad the respect he deserves?

The response from a blended and step family expert:
This is typical behavior for kids about to enter a blended or step family. They don’t know what is expected of them, so you have to tell them. They may also be getting conflicting comments and information from their other parent, perhaps telling them that it isn’t OK to love a step parent. Here are a few blended family guidelines to follow.

Blended and step family – a new experience
Talk to your kids about what divorce and remarriage mean, and what your future step family holds in store for them. Remind them that when you all live together your spouse is the dad of that home and must be treated with the appropriate respect. However, they should know that he will no way replace their biological dad. Being step kids is not easy, and you must explain what this means in their world, and how they are expected to act towards your future spouse.

Blended family rules
It’s important to have house rules in place for your blended family, and these rules should be agreed upon and presented as a team, with you and your spouse. All children should be treated equally and fairly. Here are some good blended family house rules to consider:

·         Be polite and respectful to each parent, as well as all siblings
·         Talk to everyone within the home
·         Gain permission before touching or playing with someone else’s property

In a blended family, you can’t make everyone like one another, but you can force your kids to treat their step siblings as they want to be treated. They could end up as close friends, but if they don’t, so what? Biological brothers and sisters don’t always like each other either.

Lastly, you may see some drastic changes when you actually tie the knot. Seeing you get married will give them some stability, and increase their willingness to accept your husband and their new step siblings.

The Blended and Step Family Resource Center offers assistance in terms of counseling and coaching services to help blended and step families in adjusting to their new family setting. If you need more extensive help, check out the many resources at The Blended and Step Family Resource Center.