Starting Blended Family
I’m sure you have heard that over 50% of the children of the US are being raised in blended families now.
Have you also heard that children are the cause of divorce in over 50% of second/third marriages?
I don’t think I know anyone whose life has not been touched in some way by a blended family.
And we have all heard tales of the wicked stepmom or the overbearing stepdad.
But now it’s you. You’re soon to be a step-parent!
Frightening, isn’t it?
How do your start a blended family? Do you all join hands and jump into the water, hoping everyone can swim.
That’s a good way to drown as a stepfamily.
The most important part of becoming a stepparent is the prior planning you and your partner do before the wedding.
First and foremost, the adults need to agree in advance about discipline. Who, what, when, where, and how is a good place to start with your discipline plan.
Then agree on all acceptable behavior for children, including the rules for your home and the consequences of breaking those rules.
The second most important aspect of a blended family is that each adult support the other. No giving in or allowing children to manipulate the rules. Manipulation and inconsistency guarantee that you will have a “blender” family instead of a “blended” family.
After the adults are in agreement, it is time for the children to have the new regime and the new rules explained to them.
Parents should discuss upcoming changes with their children in detail appropriate to their age. But it should be clear from the beginning that the adults are deciding which changes will be made.
You may both want to be present when this is discussed, allowing the biological parent to do the talking. Or you may choose a one-on-one situation.
Stepparents are rarely made in heaven. In fact, there will be problems while affection and bonding are growing.
Therefore, the biological parent should explain to his/her children, that although love is not necessary for the stepparent, respect and cooperation are mandatory. Clearly state that the new spouse is to be treated in a courteous manner.
If you are the biological parent, explain that this is your new husband or wife, not a potential father or mother. Tell them also that if love happens, that will be wonderful and make you and your new husband/wife very happy. But in the meantime, respect is the order of the day.
Every blended family has its ups and downs. From sullen teen-agers to former spouses who would never dream of cooperating with anyone, you’ll find life in a blended family is challenging.
Go slow. You will not be a family in one day or possibly even in one year. Many experts say it can take three years or longer!
Persistence is the key. Stepfamilies are a long-term commitment.
If you cultivate patience, concentrate on the positive, and keep your sense of humor, you, too, can become an effective and loving stepmom or stepdad. But setting the ground rules first will go a long way to making your new family successful.