Look for these signs to know that your blended family efforts have paid off:
- You have set rules that apply to everyone. This means that house rules for your step family are always the same, even if you are tired or your spouse isn’t home. Biological kids and step kids should all be held to the same standards. Parents should follow a strict set of rules as well.
- Dinner is filled with laughter. It is a good sign if kids and step kids are comfortable enough with each other to joke around and act silly. Keep an eye on the more introverted children in your blended family to see how they are reacting.
- All children, whether biological or step kids, are treated equally. Your kids will be watching to see if anyone gets special treatment of any sort. They will not miss a thing!
- Your children introduce their step mom or step dad to friends or teachers. It may seem strange, but make sure to praise your kids when this occurs. It is a true sign of acceptance when they take this step.
- All the kids in your blended family are interacting with each other. Silence may be the most prominent noise in a blended family home, at least for awhile. Once kids get used to each other they will start to talk and interact more. Don’t thrust yourself into their conversations or activities; let them be together, without knowing a parent is listening in.
- You have photos on the wall, featuring everyone in your step family, and you are all smiling!. This may seem like an odd one, but the truth is that a blended family normally doesn’t photograph well, at least not initially. There will be heads down, pouty faces, rabbit ears, etc. Take and put up some candid photos of them having fun. This is a good first step towards great step family photos.
- Your kids all offer to share snacks with one another. This may seem like a minor thing, but it’s a crucial step in a blended family. It is a sign that they care about their stepsiblings and are accepting them as family members.
- You have developed your own traditions. Each group has entered the step family with memories of past traditions and holidays. Take time to appreciate these traditions, and try to incorporate variations of them into your new traditions.
- A visiting child expresses that hey had fun during their stay and asks when the next visit will be. Progress has truly been made when the child feels at home and looks forward to their next visit. Make certain that visiting children have a space to call their own. It doesn’t have to be a room of their own, but just somewhere to leave their belongings and feel at home.
Creating a blended family is challenging, but it is well worth it. It is quite a feat to watch two individual families become one amazing unit. Easy? No! Doable? YES!
For more ideas and advice on how to navigate your blended family towards a solid relationship, The Blended and Step Family Resource Center has resources, including licensed professional counselors who can assist with coaching and counseling services. The center is founded by Shirley Cress Dudley, who is also the author of the book Blended Family Advice, as well as other resources aimed at providing guidance and advice for blended and step families.