Basically, two different families become one, and it is a delicate process that will bring many emotions, attitudes and feelings to the surface. To make the transition to a blended family easier for every member of that family, here are some basic rules and guidelines to consider:
- Your marriage and the love you share with your new spouse is the glue that holds your blended family together. The reason why you started this new family, this new life, is because you fell in love with your spouse and you wanted to get married. So, value your marriage, invest time in your relationship and above all, keep all the communication lines open. Even if you are afraid of certain sensitive topics (you feel that your spouse spends more time with his or her kids than he does with you, or you are worried that he or she might not be able to become attached to your kids) you have to discuss them. Hiding your feelings will create pressure on your relationship, and that pressure will reflect negatively on your merging family.
- Give time to the kids (your kids and your spouse’s) to deal with the situation. Depending on their age, the transition to a blended family might be smooth or, on the contrary, bumpy. Younger children usually accept and embrace the idea of a step mom, a step dad or step siblings. However, the transition is a little more complicated for blended families with teenager. Being a teenager is pretty confusing anyway, and having to deal with the whole blended family situation will put even more pressure on teenage kids. You need to show them empathy, love and support. Treat them as grownups: this means talking to them and explaining them that you deserve to be happy and in a loving, fulfilling relationship. Don’t give in to tantrums, menaces, blackmails or any other type of destructive behavior.
- Spend time as a family, and make time for each member of the stepfamily. It’s important to do things together, all of you, as a family: you and your spouse, your children and his or her children. But you also need to make sure that you spend enough time alone with your spouse, that you also allocate time for doing special things with your biological children and also for getting to know your step-kids better. Every member of your blended family needs to feel valued, loved and protected.
Check out the many resources at The Blended and Step Family Resource Center for help with managing your blended family. If you need more extensive help, The Blended and Step Family Resource Center offers assistance in the form of counseling and coaching services to help blended and step families in adjusting to their new family setting.