Written by: Jasmine Wilson, MS, LMFT-A
Blending a family can be challenging. However, with the right strategies, it can increase peace in the home and help a new relationship thrive. It is important to remember that this transition is not an overnight process. It takes patience and persistence to establish new bonds and habits. Blending a family is a delicate process, so try not to become disheartened or attempt to rush the connection.
In a blended family, it is important to set boundaries and establish family rules. Parents should be clear on what the expectation will be for the roles of parenting. There should also be special consideration and attention given in the establishment of household rules. These rules should be discussed amongst all members of the family so that everyone has a voice. Even the smallest members of your family have something valuable to contribute. Creating common rules and traditions is a great way to define ambiguous relationships and make rituals and traditions part of the family.
Building a strong bond between all members of the family is essential to the smooth functioning of the blended family. It is important to establish regular one-on-one time with all family members, starting with your partner's children and gradually building up to the whole family. Children adjust to a blended family at varying speeds. A two-year-old and 12-year-old will not have the same reaction to change. Teens may take longer to accept affection or influence from a stepparent. Adjusting your approach to fit the child’s need will help to create a solid bond. Provide each child a safe space for children to express and process their emotions.
While developing a bond, a stepparent should not jump right in as the disciplinarian. The stepparent should begin by being a good listener and offering support while trust is being established. This trust can be built by having open communication where the child feels heard and understood. Families should come together for family meetings that allow for everyone to communicate their feelings with one another. Another fun way to build trust is by having family time together. Go on a hike, ride bikes, toss a ball, or play a board game. During this time, provide your undivided attention to your family.
Blending a family can present its fair share of challenges. However, fostering a strong marital bond will help the children feel more secure. Parents should set aside time to connect and decompress. Dating each other should continue to be a priority, so remember to make the effort to stay connected. When the parents can show that they love and respect one another, it is likely that the kids will model the same behaviors.