Friday, January 6, 2012

The key to happiness in a blended family is reducing stress

In the year 2011, a step or blended family was reported to be the most common type of family in the United States. However, even though a stepfamily is much more common, it remains a major source of stress for the people in these homes.

When two people who have gone through a divorce decide to enter remarriage, and one or both of them bring children into the relationship, the resulting unit is called a blended family or step family. If they both bring children, then each adult must navigate the nuances of being a step mom or step dad, and this is where stress first creeps in.

Not only adults feel the stress. Everyone does. You and your spouse have gone through the ceremony and made the commitment and said the vows, but no one really feels like a family just yet. There is competition, conflict, and jealousy among the adults and children in your step family. In order to solve these problems, the adults often make a concerted effort to mollify anyone who is upset.

Disney Dads and Super Moms
Some guys will try to become what is known as a Disney Dad.  Here is a quiz to find out if you are one:
·         Are you overly nervous when your kids are coming to visit?
·         Do you try to make everything perfect for their visit?
·         Do you attempt to arrange amazing activities each time they come?
·         Do you ignore others when they come?

If you answered yes to two or more questions, then you are guilty! That is not necessarily a bad thing, but you should try to remember that not everyone is going to be happy 100 percent of the time, no matter what you do.

Women often attempt to be Super Mom, trying to please their spouse, kids, step kids, and anyone else they can. They go into overdrive trying to do all they can to make the new blended family perfect. There is only one problem with that. Perfection is an impossible goal!

Keep Things in Perspective
You are painting yourself into an impossible corner. There is no way you will please every kid in your blended family, at all times. Even if you came close, it would never be enough, and they would expect more. The bar will continue to be raised until it is grossly out of your reach.

Less Stress
The less stress there is, the happier your entire stepfamily will be. Even your spouse will never be happy all the time, but you can keep your marriage strong by setting aside some one-on-one time each day. You can work together to create fair and caring house rules for your blended family, create goals, and discuss your future.

All your kids, including step kids, want to feel like they belong.  Eat meals together, take them on errand runs, and include them in your family activities. It is important to make all the kids, whether biological or step, feel as though they have an important place in the blended family.

Your kids need structure and leadership, not a friend. This is no time to eliminate discipline and try to be their pal. They have pals. You are not a pal, you are a parent. Your kids want you to be proud of them, so give them some responsibility and something to shoot for.

Creating an even balance between couple time, parent and child time, and blended family time will leave you with far less stress each day. Life will never be perfect. It never has been and likely never will be, even with your new step family.  Concentrate on balance and structure and you will be just fine!

If you need advice with your blended family, The Blended and Step Family Resource Center exists to provide coaching and counseling services as well as information resources to help blended and step families work and become better family units. Get in touch with our licensed professional counselors today.

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