Are you divorced with kids? Have you found a new partner who has children of their own? Have you made the decision to blend your two families into one? Making the move to blend your families is an exciting yet nerve wracking time. There are probably a thousand questions swarming in your head. What if our parenting styles clash? What if our kids don't get along? What if my child doesn't adjust well to having a new parental figure around?
This is a big change, so of course it isn't an easy process, but it is so worth it in the long run. These tips can help make things go more smoothly.
1. Patience is key.
Don't expect to feel like a family overnight. This is something that takes time. To really feel like a family, you need to spend time bonding, taking care of each other during struggles, and getting to know each other's personalities — the good parts and the bad. Being a family is about being there for one another, and that takes time and patience.
2. Communicate with your partner.
Parenting together changes the dynamics of a relationship. Be prepared to realize that your parenting style is very different from theirs and that's okay. Communication can help you understand why they handle things the way they do, and where it might be helpful for you or them to make some compromises so that you can present a more united front to the children. Look at parenting together not as a situation where you have to fight to prove that your way is the best way, but rather as an opportunity for both of you to learn new parenting approaches from one another. Remember that you both have the same goal: to keep your children happy, healthy, and thriving.
3. Set aside time for bonding.
It may be tempting for some members of the family to isolate themselves and resist the changes that are occuring. This is especially true if you have teenaged or preteen children in the household. That's why it's a good idea to set aside time for “obligatory quality time.” We recommend a recurring game night or family outing.
4. Make sure all the children are getting one-on-one attention.
Blending families can cause sibling rivalries. Adding new children to the family can make your kids feel protective of their relationship with you. Make it clear to them that there's enough love to go around by giving them the one-on-one attention they crave. Treat all of the children fairly, and avoid overcompensating with your partner's children.
If you are facing a family law or adoption issue, we want to help. We love working with blended families. To get started, call us at (704) 861-0700.