Saturday, March 31, 2012

How can you unite a blended family?

Blending a step family is hard, but there are ways to unite the family. One way is by creating guidelines. As much as we'd like to give our children everything they want, parents later on realize that there has to be a limit and playing favorites is something any parent should avoid. No one likes to say no to their children. But sometimes, a set of rules that will give them an idea that everyone is equal can make a huge difference to the mood and attitude in your home.

One misconception is that after remarriage, parents should loosen up a bit on their children when it comes to discipline. However, all parents should know that children need discipline and structure in their lives and only parents can help them have that. Pointing out what is right and wrong will have a huge effect on them as they grow older, and they will understand later on that you did all that because of love.

Of course, it is not always easy to implement the rules especially when you are a step parent. But, it is important to remember that even though you want to be the "cool" step parent and not the wicked witch, you are still a parent. Be responsible and guide your kids - biological or not - by letting them experience natural consequences for things they do. When you do remind them about the rules, be sure to let them know that you love them.

To make blending a family a success, all parents of blended families should always remember to focus on their marriage first. Although you want to spend time with the kids, partners should also give time for themselves. This will help both parents in keeping the family together and functioning properly. For more information, contact The Blended and Step Family Resource Center.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Ways to meet expectations in a blended family

Blending a family together is hard work. There are expectations that everyone has when it comes to bringing two families together. You may have certain expectations for your new step kids or step parents and all of those feelings are normal. There are some things that take place inside a blended family that can only be described through experience and that is where learning to manage and meet the expectations of those in your newly created family is important.

Celebrating various holidays
Celebrating any kind of holiday in a remarriage can be difficult. The beauty behind celebrating a birthday or any other holiday is that it should be fun for everyone. It’s up to the biological parent to help make this possible in a remarriage. Your kids may not feel comfortable buying a birthday card for their new step mom or step dad. It’s your job to sit down and explain that it’s okay to feel a little awkward. You need to understand that it’s okay to guide them in the right direction. It may take some time to get used to celebrating holidays in your blended family, but it is something that can be done.

Your child is refusing to acknowledge the step parent
It is not uncommon for a child to not acknowledge a step parent. You may not understand why your child is acting this way, but there are some things you can do to help the situation. Sit down and talk to your children about honoring the new parent, especially on certain holidays. Respect should always be given and it’s never okay to be rude. It may take some time, but over time your child will build a special relationship with the new parenting situation.

Grandparents in the equation
It’s common for people to get remarried and leave out the grandparent aspect. This is a special part of a blended family because every situation is so different. In a perfect world, all grandparents would be equally accepting of all children. Nevertheless, there will always be situations that need work, especially in the grandparent department. In some situations, the grandparents just naturally blend into the occasion and on the other hand, some grandparents will need a little direction.

Making decisions as a couple
The bottom line of a blended family is that you and your spouse are making decisions as a couple. Listen to what each other has to say and make decisions from there. Whenever an unexpected expectation comes up, you can learn to simply deal with it. Use these tools to help you along the way. No blended family is perfect, but at least you have tools to help you get through the most difficult situations, like meeting expectations in a blended family.  For more information, contact The Blended and Step Family Resource Center.

Friday, March 16, 2012

How to handle visits in a blended family home

Visitation between parents can be confusing for children at times. Is it time to go to mom’s house or dad’s house?  Kids may get confused, but parents can make this process easier or more difficult for the child who is going from one home to the other. Here are some tips on how to make the experience easier for everyone.

Keep out the negative talk
There is nothing worse than speaking negatively about your ex-spouse in front of the children. You might think that it will help everyone feel better in the long run, but speaking negatively about anyone can cause some major confusion. Your child has been through enough, and he or she should not have to choose sides.

Always speak positively about your ex- spouse to your child. You can be honest too, though. You can say that even though you and the other parent don’t agree on everything, you can agree that you love your children.

Stick to the visitation plan
Visitation plans are put into place for a reason after divorce. While it may be hard at times, you have to stick to your written agreements regarding visitations. Both parents should allow some flexibility in the plan whenever possible. Blended families can become very complicated and it’s important to stay organized throughout this process.

Talk with your child
It’s no secret that your child will be traveling to and from two different homes. Try to make it as easy as possible on the child by expressing the expectations you have with them. Be as positive as you can while you are talking with your child. Also tell them you are proud of them and always keep the lines of communication open. The more open you are with your child, then the more the child will come and talk to you about issues. Always make time to talk to your child, one on one, and check to see how he is doing.

Never use the child to spread a message
It seems easier to tell your child to pass along a message to your ex-spouse, but in reality it’s a very messy process. Communication through the child means that the parents get out of the habit of talking to each other. It puts the child in an awkward position, and it’s something that will weigh heavy on the child. Make it clear that although mom and dad are in two different homes, one thing will never change: your love for them.

Visits take time to get used to
Whatever part of the visitation process you are in, always keep things positive. Remarriage is hard on everyone, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Follow these visitation tips and you can have successful visits with your children.

For more information about blended families and visitation, contact The Blended and Step Family Resource Center.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Surviving the first three months in your blended or step family

The beginning of a blended family does not have to spell disaster. You can survive the first 90 days and come out better than ever. Every new family will have issues, but every blended family also has the power to work through those issues. Becoming a successful blended family may include going through a specific process. It does not matter if you have been a family for one week or 92 weeks, you must progress into a blended family to make it successful for everyone involved.

Spread the love
You would think that a remarriage automatically involves everyone singing Kumbaya at the end of the day. However, in reality you all know that is not true. In a remarriage or blended family, there is no less love than there is in a biological family. There is plenty of opportunity for love in a blended family, but you all have to make it happen. Over time, your blended family will grow and begin making memories together.

Odd feelings are normal
Entering into a step sibling and step parent situation means that there will be some odd feelings involved. Although you are madly in love with your new partner, your children will still need some time to adjust. It may be all sorts of confusing for your children because they are not sure where to put your new spouse. The best advice is to give your children some space, let them have their odd feelings and let everything work out on its own.  In other words, do not force something to happen; instead, let it happen naturally.

Keep out the competitions
There is nothing worse than a child feeling like they have to compete for attention. Do not allow any competitions to occur in your home. Everyone has a place in the new blended family, but that does not mean anyone should be treated differently. Remind your children that the new step parent is not replacing the biological parent. Take the time to get to know each other on a personal level and watch how that competitive feeling slowly goes away.

Stay true to the discipline
One of the biggest issues happening in remarriage is that discipline goes out the window. This should not happen. Always present yourselves as a united front whenever your children challenge your authority. Establish house rules and be consistent with them. Children know when and how to push your buttons and they will do so. Even if you and your spouse disagree on something, you should do it in private and away from the kids.  Your children need to be in structured environment.

For more information, contact The Blended and Step Family Resource Center for guidance on managing your blended or step family.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Avoiding blended family mistakes eases transition

There are always a million and one things you should do when you become a blended family. There are also several things you should not do whenever you enter remarriage. Learning the right things to do and the wrong things to do will help you become a better partnership. No one is perfect, but you should learn to be respectful of your new family members.

Do not pretend like nothing has changed
One of the worst things you can do whenever your family enters the step kids and step parent situation, is to pretend like nothing has happened. It is no secret that things have changed, but you should not try to make it a secret. There are obviously different family members in your home and you should acknowledge it and try to make the best of it.

Do not give your own children special attention
Whenever you agreed to become a blended family, you also agreed to take his or her kids as your own. Of course, those kids still have their biological parents, but that is no excuse for you to treat them differently than your own. Keep in mind that those kids are going to be watching you like a hawk. Kids are smart, and they will know if you are treating them like second-class citizens.

Do not treat everything as a competition
Competition is a natural part of life, but it should not be a natural part of being a step mom or step dad. Do not try and make life a competition between kids. For example, you do not want to rub it into your spouse’s face that your kid did better in school than his kid. Remember, you are supposed to be making your blended family as whole as possible. Ripping each other apart is not the way to go when you are trying to build a family structure.

Do not ignore your spouse
Family time is so important and that is why you do not want to only focus on the kids. Spend time with your spouse alone. Of course, you should spend time with your step children, but you should also go on dates two to four times a month. This will help make your remarriage go a lot smoother. Your kids will do better, when you and your spouse are thriving.

Do enjoy your time together as a family
As mentioned before, there are a lot of do’s and don’ts when it comes to blending a family together. Each family member is important in making sure this works out. The parents need time to themselves, but everyone needs to spend time together. Enjoy life and keep in mind that you all are capable of making this remarriage work. Follow these “do not” rules and watch your family flourish.

For more information, contact The Blended and Step Family Resource Center, for guidance on managing your blended or step family.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Learning to make financial decisions as a blended family

Now that you are no longer single, you need to learn to make decisions as a family. Before when it was just you, you could easily make financial decisions that only impacted you. Now, you have several people to worry about and that may include a blended family. A blended family is a whole different ball game when it comes to financial success. Often times, you have child support to worry about and other financial hurdles to jump over.

Plan a budget for a blended family
Learning how to make a budget after a divorce or a remarriage does not have to be hard. You can sit down with your spouse and figure out a budget for the next 12 months. A budget is something that you do not want to divert from because it will help make your life a lot easier, and it will help make your remarriage a lot more successful. Make a list of your financial priorities and stick with them when you are creating your new family budget.

Make a list of where the money goes
After a remarriage, the two adults in the relationship need to sit down and make a realistic budget. Write out each category in which the family money will go. For example, write out mortgage, utilities, groceries and etc. You will want to make sure you do not forget a category. You also need to make a list of the incomes that are coming in each week. After all, you cannot make a budget unless you have actual income coming in.

Find free money in the budget
Making a budget is not easy, nor is making financial choices in a blended family. There are always step family members involved and you need to find a way to make everyone happy. You have to find some free money in the budget, that way you can find fun things to do. Sitting in the house and watching TV all the time, just will not cut it.  Give each person in the family an amount of money each week. Each person may use this money how they want, but the parents are in charge of deciding the cash amount that is fair for everyone. Make sure to stick with the amount and do not make purchases over that amount.

Prepare for the worst
Always talk about the worst-case scenario that could happen in life. Ask questions like, “Should we have separate accounts” and “Who should be the beneficiary of our money?” You always want to ask questions like these, especially after a divorce. Prepare for the worst now, so that you may enjoy life a little better later. Do not be afraid to talk about death because it’s a natural part of life, and it’s something that needs addressed after a divorce and before a remarriage.

Learn to make better financial choices
When you learn to make better financial choices in your blended family now, then you can all benefit later. Making a budget, finding spending money and talking about finances after death are all part of learning to make financial decisions as a blended family.

For more information, contact The Blended and Step Family Resource Center, for guidance on managing your blended or step family.