Saturday, February 11, 2012

Creating stepfamily balance means setting boundaries

Your spouse is angry, the kids are fighting, crying, or both, and you haven’t gone to the gym in two weeks!  Your blended family has descended into chaos and you desperately need help creating step family balance. Don’t worry. There are steps you can take to get your marriage, family and self back into shape, creating stepfamily balance that will last a lifetime.

Find time for yourself. 
If you keep running and running, making sure that everyone in your stepfamily is happy, and you forget yourself, you are going to burn out.  Stop and think about this, when are the days that you lose your temper and yell, or burst into tear, or basically can’t parent or be a loving spouse?  Those are the days you’ve forgotten to take care of yourself! You don’t have time to skip relaxing. Figure out what makes you calm and make room for these activities in your day, and you will be on your way to creating stepfamily balance.

Making time for spouse important to creating balance in stepfamilies
I’m sure you didn’t remarry because it was always your goal in life to be a stepparent, to parent another person’s child and be responsible for this child without all the authority. You entered this marriage because you love your mate and saw a second chance to have a great marriage.

If you want a great marriage, then you need to spend time with your spouse. Your marriage should be in the center of the family, not the kids or stepkids. 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 is important is that you are continuing to get to know your mate, pay attention to his or her interests, and be an active part in their lives. Creating stepfamily balance means including the needs of the marriage.

Let’s talk about parent/child time and blended family time
Balance your family time. Biological parents should have some dedicated time, at least once a week (or at least once a visit) with their kids. This doesn’t have to be over-the-top theme park quality time. Kids can accompany parents to the hardware store, the grocery store or other errands.  Stopping to get a soda or ice cream on the way home makes it even more special, but the real focus is that the parent is giving the child one-on-one time.

How do you know if you’re out of balance? If your spouse gets upset whenever the kids visit and says she’s being ignored then you’re out of balance. If your spouse says he never has any couple time with you anymore, then you are out of balance.

Remember, the most important thing in a blended family is to create balance with your time.  Dedicated parent/child time is great and a necessary part of a healthy family, but should never be the primary focus of any child’s visit. When the whole family comes together, your entire blended family is now more capable of accepting their stepsiblings and positively responding to family events. Your family is important, and creating a healthy balance means dedicating time to yourself, your spouse, parent and child time, and blended family time.  It isn’t easy.  There will be days in which you don’t get any significant time to yourself. But taking these steps will pave the way to creating blended family balance, and make everyone happier and more emotionally healthy in the end. 

The Blended and Step Family Resource Center aims to assist your blended family with our counseling and coaching services. We also have resources, including the book Blended Family Advice, to help you manage the different issues that typical blended families have to deal with, and more. Contact us today and let us know how we can help.

1 comment:

  1. How do you balance the school activites when the stepchild lives an hour away with her mom? What if there are activities for stepchild and biological child on the same day but cities that are an hour apart? How do we manage these without making one feel less important than the other? I really want to do this right. Thanks