14 Feb Blending Families: tips to ease the process
By Maha Souman, B.A.
Let’s Blend Our Families!
If you’re entering a blended family or you found yourself in a blended family, this is the blog for you! What is a blended family? A blended family is a family that is composed of two partners, a couple, and their children from previous marriages or relationships. But of course, each blended family is very unique and comes with its own obstacles and its own unique family dynamics. And as with anything else, change is difficult, especially when changing the norms and rituals of a family and blending it with a whole new family.
Blending two families can be very complex and difficult, requiring many skills and lots of patience. When creating a blended family you are mixing biological parents, stepparents, biological children and stepchildren, and even half-siblings. Not to mention, the emotional aspects of this which can be sadness, depression, or anxious thoughts due to the separation of the biological parents and the toll that might have on the children involved.
These are some common issues you might run into when creating your blended family:
- Blurred or overlapping roles
- Varying rituals and belief systems which can lead to disagreements
- Inconsistent home environment due to rotating homes
- Children having difficulty accepting the new partner/spouse
- Intense emotions for everyone involved
- Difficulty tracking schedules and scheduling conflicts
- Different parenting styles
So how can you begin to experience more ease while blending your families? Here are some tips for successfully blending families:
You can begin showing respect to all family members by recognizing that each individual will have different perspectives, emotions, reactions, and experiences. Therefore, begin by showing respect for all members by understanding, listening, and communicating openly.
Show some empathy
Recognize that you and other parents in the blended family will be parenting children they don’t know very well and have no history with. Children are also unadjusted to the new emotions they are experiencing toward the new members of the family such as stepparents and step-siblings. The biological parents will also experience a range of emotions and may even feel threatened by the new stepparent and the influence that parent will have on their children. Therefore, you must consider the perspectives of others and show empathy and understanding when possible.
Define clear roles and communication
Ensuring that you set clear expectations of the roles and responsibilities each parent will take on is crucial and can eliminate a lot of disagreements and misunderstandings. Always keep in mind that children involved are constantly going back and forth between different households and different sets of rules and lifestyles, therefore open communication between the parents will be important and the only way to limit disagreements that children will witness.
Strong relationships create strong families
It’s hard to remember in the midst of blending families that your marriage still comes first. Disagreements related to the blending of families will certainly come up, so make a pact to talk openly, address it respectfully, and support one another. Children are learning from adults through observation, therefore remember to show them how they should expect to be treated in relationships and allow them to see that you love and respect your partner.
Be patient with yourself!
This is not easy! Establishing roles will take time, energy, and lots of effort, so remember to have patience for yourself during the process and ensure that you have time for self-care and reflection during your busy week, and now, busy weekends! And remember it’s important to seek help when you need it! Family therapy can help improve troubled relationships between partners, children or other family members