Being in a blended family presents its own unique set of challenges that those in a traditional family may not experience. You may feel perfectly comfortable with how you parent your own children, but that doesn’t mean you are prepared to take on a stepchild. Your children may absolutely adore you, but how well will they deal with a new parental figure? Here are some ideas that may help you out whether you are considering a remarriage or are already in one.
Keep the Kids Involved: While it is ultimately up to you who you choose as a partner, the opinion of your children (and the children of any potential mate) also counts. After all, it’s important to know how everyone will get along if there’s the possibility that you may all be living in the same house someday. Try going on “family dates” that include the kids to help ease the transition into a new unit. Once you get married, make sure you still take time to get the whole family together and interacting.
Your Marriage is Your Priority: That may sound backwards. Many of us are devoted to our children, and social media keeps us under the impression that the children must come first above all else. But your children need good role models to understand what a good marriage is made of, and this is especially true if they have been through a divorce with you. Use your marriage to show them how they should behave in their own relationships when they’re grown.
All Children are Created Equal: This is one of the hardest things for both partners to accept. It’s a basic biological instinct to put the needs of your children before the needs of other children, or to make compromises for them that you wouldn’t make for others. Unfortunately, this can cause tension in your marriage and great amounts of resentment from the kids. The rules of the house should be the rules for all the children, no matter who they belong to biologically. As far as it is possible, they should all have the same chores, punishments, and privileges.
Be a United Force: Both your biological children and your stepchildren need to see you and your new spouse as one unit that is always in agreement. If they notice that the two of you have different parenting styles (which is quite likely), they will probably use that to their advantage to get what they want. In essence, they could pit you and your partner against each other. Discuss and agree on the rules of the new household in private before presenting them to the kids. Keep in mind that both of you will probably need to compromise on a few things.
There will undoubtedly be numerous bumps in the road if you’re part of a blended family, but it doesn’t mean they can’t be overcome. Don’t let yourself be threatened by statistics that say blended families are more likely to get divorced, because all it takes is some effort and communication. Take into the account the feelings of everyone involved and spend plenty of time together to help ensure your blended family functions smoothly.