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.

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