As many remarriages involve children from previous relationships, mixed families are more common than ever. However, when families blend, it seldom progresses smoothly. Some kids may resist changes, while you may become frustrated as a parent when your new family does not work the same way as your previous family once did. While mixing families requires adjustment for everyone involved, these guidelines can help your new family work through the growing pains.
What Is a Blended Family?
When you and your partner make a life together with the kids from one or both of your previous relationships, a mixed family or stepfamily forms. While you are likely to approach remarriage as parents and a new family with great joy and expectation, your children or the children of your new spouse may not be as excited as you are. They are likely to feel uncertain about future changes and how they affect relationships with their natural parents. They will also worry about living with new step-siblings they may not know well, or worse, that they may not even like.
Here are some tips on how to effectively handle your newly blended family:
- Nurture and learn to communicate well with your marriage. Maintaining fun in marriage is the number five predictor of a high-quality step-couple relationship according to a study of more than 50,000 stepfamily couples. The number two and three predictors of successful remarriages were good communication and conflict resolution skills.
- Keep a positive outlook. This is new for everyone, so expect to feel lost. Seek understanding and do not force people to mix, as it takes time. It may take years for your family to really unite, and moving too quickly can cause a lot of frustration. Be patient with the process.
- Talk to other people. You may want to educate yourself about living as a stepfamily before you start. Also, ask other stepfamilies about their experiences and the things that surprised them.
- Help the children. Each biological parent should spend as much one-on-one time as possible with their children. Because this is also foreign territory for them, prepare them to expect a variety of feelings and encourage them to talk about it. Discuss what to call each other (e.g. stepdad or “George”) and decide how to publicly introduce each other.
- Be a team player. It is helpful to seek consensus in household rules and how to cooperate with parents and step-parents. Have a lot of meetings with each other. Focusing on building relationships with the kids is a great idea for stepparents in the first year. Be sure to move at their pace, not yours.
Contact an Attorney
At the Law Offices of Kayleene H. Writer, PLC, we are passionate about helping people while they are going through their difficult family law situations. We would love to talk to you about how we can help you. Just contact us online or give us a call today at (949) 353-6151.