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.

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