Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Set reasonable expectations of remarriage and you’re on your way to success!

When we think of marriage, and about family, what naturally comes to mind is whatever experience of marriage and family we have had. After a divorce, we hope that our remarriage will look and feel different in every way. We have great expectations, about the remarriage and about how well and how easily our blended family will come together.

Expectations of the remarriage
Whatever our previous experiences with marriage, we bring expectations that our new relationship with our spouses and in our new blended family will be more successful than our past relationships. We hope that our remarriage will prove to be better, of course, more loving, more caring, more fun.  And the children will certainly be much better off, and much happier now that we are both happier.  Beware! This is not an automatic outcome!

Looking ahead is better than looking back
If your previous partner was not appreciative of all the things you did around the house, do you expect your new spouse to be the same, or different? Do you expect to have to remind them about the same things, explain the same feeling and issues; do you anticipate arguments and skepticism over the same subjects? Over expectations can be disappointing, but under expectations can be much more damaging. Try to see your new partner as new.

Sharing expectations by communicating
Chances are pretty good that you did not marry a mind-reader. If you want your spouse to know something important about you, something that matters, you have to say it out loud.  Especially in a remarriage, we sometimes expect our new spouses already know we prefer serious greeting cards, or that we would rather eat dirt than visit for more than an hour with Aunt Harriet when it is a good day to be outside. It is really unfair for us to feel disappointed or misunderstood if our partner does not know we even have an issue with a certain situation!

Choosing to focus on your own primary relationship is not choosing your spouse over your kids. It is choosing to build a base upon which you can grow as parents and step parents, for the benefit of the entire blended family. Talk it over.  Communicate. For more information, contact The Blended and Step Family Resource Center.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Setting reasonable expectations for blended family members ensures success

When we think about what a family is, whether it is a nuclear, single parent, extended, blended or step family, we have an ideal in mind. Realistically speaking, though, we know that few families attain ideal stature. This is not to say that we should have low expectations. We just need to try to have our expectations be realistic when it comes to how well and how easily our blended family comes together.

Expectations of the blended family
Expectations between spouses in a blended family need to be reasonable, mutual, and flexible.  It is a sad fact that almost a third of blended families fail, and some might suggest it is because of unreasonable expectations of what a remarriage will bring. It would be fair to say that most spouses hope it will be better,  of course, than their previous partnerships; certainly, more loving, more understanding, more supportive and more respectful.  And it would go without saying that most hope the children will be happier. 

When the children do not seem happy
As parents and step parents, it is important to remember that children of divorce and remarriage often continue to feel the loss of divorce long after one of their parents finds a new partner and for quite a while into a remarriage. You may have divorced your ex-spouse, but you children did not divorce anyone.   

Which expectations belong to whom?
When you share your own expectations with your blended family, things work out better than if you assume their expectations are the same as yours. It may be that your step kids cannot imagine calling you anything but your first name.  It may be that your new mother-in-law expects her child to talk over family matters with her before you even hear about them. It may be that you thought being a step parent would mean being a friend to the step kids. It may be that the step siblings think they should not have to share bedrooms or bathrooms or homework spaces. Blended families throw people together who already have their own traditions and rituals, and their own expectations.

Communicate, communicate, communicate!
Communicate to your step family members that blended family rules travel with you as a family.
When you visit your bio family for special occasions, explain to your step kids that they are now important members of your family, too, and you expect them to go with you to visit the rest of the blended family.  Also, it is a good idea to be sure step kids understand that there will be appropriate consequences for not being congenial and polite at blended family gatherings, extended family or otherwise.
Expectations can be a two-edged sword. If you do not keep expectations high enough, you are asking for disappointment. If you keep them too high, or do not let people know what they are, you are asking for disappointment. Be realistic, reasonable, and understanding. Let your blended family come to expect that!
For more information, contact The Blended and Step Family Resource Center.

Monday, May 21, 2012

How to help your kids cope with your ex's remarriage

You have remarried and your kids have successfully coped up with the arrangements. Their finally getting along with your new spouse and their step-siblings. However, what happens when your ex-spouse decide to remarry? How can you be of help for your own kids and their coping up with their soon to be new blended family?

  1. Your kids probably already know about your ex-spouse's relationship and the marriage announcement may not come as a surprise for them. Knowing this, you can be of help for them by reassuring them that your love and your ex-spouse's love for them will remain the same.
  2. Help your kids cope up by making sure you remain positive about your ex-spouse's remarriage and soon to be new spouse. Never say anything negative about your ex-spouse's new partner specially infront of your children.
  3. Co-parenting with your new spouse and your ex-spouse should remain, never hide any information from your ex-spouse specially everything about your kids. The most important thing to understand here is understanding how your kids feel and how they are coping up with two blended families.
If you think that you cannot handle the whole lot of things that you will encounter when your ex-spouse remarries, try to reach out and ask for help. The Blended and Step FamilyResource Center is one of the top destination for blended familyadvice and coaching. Dealing with how your kids feel and how they react to your ex's remarriage can be a lot to handle, by this you should be able to assist and lighten the load of your kids when it comes to adjustments.  

Top 2 ways on dealing with your ex-spouse's remarriage and the new blended family

blended family and remarriage advice
You have remarried, you and your ex-spouse are getting along, your blended family looks great and finally getting the hang of your new family set-up. Then one day, your kids tell you, your ex-spouse is getting remarried, what do you do and how do you react.

Sensitive issues like this should never be sent through your children, but if its already done, then you have to face it first hand. Now, your worries would be, how your kids will accept it and how they would react to it? Since you have moved on from your past relationship, you do not have to do much on yourself, focus on your kids. Here are some tips:

  1. Gauge how your kids feel, ask them if they are okay with your ex's remarriage, if not talk to them about it and be as open as possible. Reassure them of your and your ex's love for them, be positive. Share with them, how you feel after your remarriage and how happy you have become and your ex would be.
  2. Never talk negatively about your ex-spouse specially in front of your kids. This rule also applies to your ex's new to be spouse and their marriage. If this happens, your kids may have to go through choosing sides, and it will not be good for their coping up with the situation.

Although you may feel something because of your ex's remarriage, you now have to focus on more important things. Making sure that your blended family is well taken care of is one, and making your kids accept the fact that both their parents now have new spouses. The Blended and Step Family Resource Center, can help. Coaching and blended family advice can help you throughout the process of your ex-spouse's remarriage.

Friday, May 18, 2012

How to take Advantage of the Summer Vacation in Bonding Your Blended Family?

Blending you blended family during summer vacations can be a great way for everyone in your blended family to bond. Finding the right activities for you and your blended family is something that you should take advantage of specially during summer vacations. Today, we will list down some tips on how you can take advantage of the summer vacation in blending your blended family.

  1. Since summer vacation ensures that step dads and step moms see the kids more often, this is also a great time for step siblings to be with each other. Perfect timing is crucial if your blended family will have great and enjoyable activities. Although sleep is crucial for kids, staying late every once in a while can be of great advantage specially for your blended family activities.
  2. Summer vacation is also a great way for a family meeting, this will bring up issues that your blended family can focus on. If you have house rules, revising some of them can be of great way of bonding with your step children.
  3. You do not have to stay at home all summer long, you can enjoy summer vacations (if the budget permits) and summer activities. Have a picnic in the park, go shopping with the kids, this way you are able to bond with your step kids and them with their step siblings.

Whatever the case with your blended family is, summer vacation is a great time to bond with your new family. The Blended Family Resource Center is a great site, where you can learn some other blended family tips, that you can use in focusing on your step children and your biological children in a fair manner.  

Thursday, May 17, 2012

How to Use Your Kid's Summer Vacation in Blending Your Blended Family?

advice on blending the blended family
Summer is coming and this is one of the best time of the year to have your step kids enjoy their summer break with your other kids. Now that your step children know their step siblings, it is best that you step up a notch and have them develop that bond. Summertime is great for bonding since the kids will have the free time with them. Some tips below can help you in blending your step-family and your biological children.

  1. Summer break will be fun for everyone, schedule an activity that your step-children and biological children enjoy. Watching fun movies is a great start, make some popcorn and snacks for them to share.
  2. Having the all the kids stay at your home can be fun too. Keep everyone busy, cooking or baking is a great way to make everyone work with each other. Baking and decorating pastries can be a lot of fun too!
  3. If you have the budget, traveling with the kids and all the member of your blended family is another way of spending time together. Make sure that everyone is aware of the rules though. Advice them on what to wear and which things are allowed and which are not.

Blendingyour blended family can be tough specially if there is a wall between them. Start by easing each other with each and everyone's presence. If you think that it will be a problem to schedule the event, make the plans ahead of time. It's okay to schedule, so long you do it ahead of time. The Blended Family Resource Center is one of the best source of information and advice on Blending your blended family.

Friday, May 11, 2012

How to Maintain a Good Relationship with your Ex-Spouse

maintaining a good relationship with your ex
Most divorce ends up in a bad relationship between ex-spouses, and most of the time its not only the parent who feel the consequences of a divorce but the children as well. You have to face the truth, you and your ex-spouse will continue to be part of each others lives, specially if you have children. With this in mind, this is one of the biggest reason as to why you should maintain a good and friendly relationship with your ex. Below are some steps you can follow in maintaining a good relationship with your ex. Although we say “good relationship” remember, you do not have to be involved in all aspects of your ex's life, since this may become a problem in the future.

  1. If you want to maintain a good relationship with your ex-spouse, make sure that you update him or her with the current situation with your kids. Withholding important information about your kids to your own is something you shouldn't do.
  2. Keep an open communication, but make sure that when you talk to your ex, you talk about things about your kids and parenting. If possible, use alternative means of communication like emails, texts or voicemail. If all else fails and it is an emergency, you just have to make that phone call. Otherwise, you can also meet to talk about the current situation of the kids.

Never say negative things about your kids infront of your kids, be respectful to your ex and make sure that the bond between him or her and your kids are maintained. If you have remarried, you should be ready to become a parent for your biological children and your step children remember, your blended family is like all families, it only depends on you on how your relationship becomes. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Blended Family Should Support the bond between Kids and the Other Parents

Blended family Supporting bond between your ex and your child
Being a parent in a blended family can be tough sometimes, making the right choices for everyone should be the top priority of the parents, specially for the step and biological parent. Making a choice in allowing a blended family child spend time with their other parent can be a tough call for most blended family parents. Although this can be the case most of the time, it's best to remember that a child, has the right to spend time and bond with all his or her biological parent unless there are circumstances that prohibits this from happening, specially for safety reasons.

To ensure that the children of the blended family are able to spend quality time with both parents, visitation schedules must be clear with both parties. One of the most common mistake with blended family is not being able to clearly define the visitation rights of the other parent therefore one party assume that the other party is trying to make it difficult to bond with their child. Instilling this connotation can bring greater problems in the future for the whole family, this is why both parents should have a clear definition and agreement on visitation rights.

Once both parties agree, the agreement should be made official and rules should be laid into place. If both parties do not agree in anyway, this should be resolved as quickly as possible. Children should be spared from seeing fights and disagreement. If you are still unable to come up with good solution for the issue, it may be best to have some expert on the topic guide you. The Blended Family Resource Center has all the information on this topic and it also discusses major issues that a step parent may encounter in the blended family set up. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Building a blended family is not for the faint of heart

Building a family that works together as a caring and supportive unit is tough, especially when children and step children who have experienced divorce and remarriage are in the mix. As parent and step parent, it falls on you and your spouse to create an environment in which your blended family can grow. You accept that it will be a challenge, and that it will take time. Here are a few suggestions that might make things a bit easier.

Be realistic
Have reasonable expectations about how quickly your blended family goals can be reached. You and your new partner continue to learn about each other and still face the joys and challenges of your remarriage, which must form the base for your new step family. Remarriage can, in some ways, be more difficult to navigate than a first marriage. Your children will have to learn to navigate their new roles as step kids and step siblings, too.

The bottom line is, be patient. It is unreasonable to expect your steps kids to accept and love you immediately, or for you to fall in love with your step kids right away, either. Expect there to be wrong assumptions, misunderstandings, and stubborn behavior, and it’s not just the kids. Living with a new bunch of people takes patience, empathy, consideration, and a sense of humor.

Parenting is hard work
It is a good idea to discuss parenting styles and beliefs before you get married, and agree on how you plan to manage your step family. If you begin making parenting adjustments before your remarriage, step kids will be less apt to blame the step parent for any changes they may dislike. If you are already married, it is never too late to discuss better ways to parent your step family and to make adjustments together, as a couple. Working together as step parents will strengthen your relationship, and reinforce your position at the center of your blended family. When you work as a team, anything is possible for your step family!

Are angry outbursts, sobs, stomping around, slamming doors, and withering looks familiar to you? These are typical adolescent signals that all is not right in their world. Generally speaking, younger kids generally take to the blended family life more easily than their bio- and step siblings, though they can be teary at mealtime or bedtime. Older teens often try to stay aloof from the entire blended family scenario, but can easily slip back into adolescent rage.  And they have really perfected those adolescent withering looks!  It is good to remember that children need structure and behavioral boundaries the most when they are feeling lost and angry. They count on parents and step parents to provide that structure and boundaries, and yes, to give them discipline.

The need for discipline
The term discipline has earned a heavy-handed reputation, but discipline is not necessarily punishment or consequences. Discipline is practicing certain patterns of behavior. When we set ground rules for our kids, aren’t we teaching acceptable behavior? When it comes to building a blended family, step parents need to take the lead to teach discipline and respect, and consequences, to their bio kids and step kids. Discipline is one of the best gifts parents can give their children.

As step parents, be brave and faithful to your goals, and you, along with your entire step family, will ultimately reap the benefits. Don’t be afraid to take the leadership role together, and teach your step kids that you are there for each other, and for them. Step-parenting may be hard work, but it is definitely worth it!

The Blended and Step Family Resource Center was created with the aim to help blended and step families with resources that include books, newsletters, articles, advice, as well as professional coaching and counseling services.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

You and your spouse are the center of your blended family

You and your spouse, if you want to build a caring and loving blended family, must hold the center spot of your new step family. On the surface, this may seem selfish, especially if both of you have biological children from previous marriages. You know how hard it has been on your children to go through the wrench of divorce or, maybe, the death of a parent.  You know they still suffer in many ways, but you have found a partner for a new life for you and your children, and you are happy. Be aware that your remarriage probably feels like just another unasked for change to their lives. They very likely feel that it is just not fair.

And they are right. It is not fair that they should have to lose the life they knew, and in ways beyond their control. You feel badly that your children suffered the loss of their old family. Their loss was overwhelming. You hope your remarriage might make things up to them, and make their lives easier somehow, but you wonder whether making your remarriage the center of your new step family is such a good idea. Why not focus on your kids? They are the ones who need you most, and you suspect your step kids need you, too.

A good home with loving parents
With your remarriage to someone you love, you are ready to make a better life for your kids and for your step kids. You want them all to feel the stability of a good home with loving parents. But you know what? Children cannot feel that hoped-for stability if you do not provide them with committed parents. The times when children of divorce and remarriage feel their lives are most out of control are exactly the times when they need parents and step parents to be their most capable and the most stable. In a step family, both bio kids and step kids need the kind of guidance and commitment that only a strong team of step parents can provide. This is why your remarriage must be absolutely at the center of your blended family.

Working together for life
When you and your spouse practice good communication, and nurture your mutual trust, love and respect; when you both agree on how best to jointly parent all your step kids, then all things are possible for you and your children. Enjoy being a couple. Take the time to celebrate the reasons you fell in love and the reasons you decided to build your blended family. Schedule couple time, away from the kids. You can, and should, talk about being step parents, and maybe even grouse about the trials and tribulations of managing a step family, but always look for solutions rather than harping on the challenges. It is also a good idea, now and then, to arrange not-parent time, when you do not talk about the kids, but simply enjoy each other.

When you make the caring relationship between you and your spouse the center of your blended family, you give that relationship the respect it deserves. Families are all about striving for mutual support and unconditional love, and blended families have a bit more to contend with when it comes to opportunities for miscommunication and misunderstandings. Children of divorce and remarriage are often suspicious of relationships. Make your relationship the core of your step family and show your step kids how a step family based on mutual support and unconditional love looks and feels.  That is an important function of a good home with loving parents, and the very basis of a functioning and happy blended family.

To get help with various issues pertaining to your blended family, The Blended and Step Family Resource Center has the resources for helping blended and step families, including books, newsletters, articles, and professional counselors, all aimed at providing guidance and information to remarried couples and their blended families.