Blended families-those families who have children from their previous relationships as well as from their current partnership- require more insight and communication.
It can be difficult for children to shift from old rules, old homes and old friends and traditions to new ones. Here are 5 tips that most experts agree help blended families enjoy their time together and find a balance that works.
Five tips for blended families
1. Patience. Understand that relationships- with a step parent, with half siblings or step siblings take time. Try not to rush this. True bonding takes time. Sometimes the connection to the step parent or other siblings will never be as strong as you would like.
2. Flexibility. Have the insight to know when to let things with your ex go and when to make it an issue. Is the issue an issue of true safety or just your preference? For example, is your child getting to stay up 30 minutes later at the other parent’s home? Is this really an issue of safety or can you focus on other things such as your child being allowed to participate in activities that are most meaningful to him or her such as sports, plays or other passions.
3. Love your child unconditionally. This means looking out for his or her best interest. This might also mean working with your ex to create consistent rules that make sense for both homes.
4. Take time for your child. It’s important for your new family to do fun things together, but it’s also important for you to plan and to take time with just your child. Sometimes when kids act out they are doing so because they want to be “seen.” Be aware of when your child might actually be hurt instead of just acting out.
5. Show respect and empathy to all family members. While it’s important to know when you might be being taken advantage of or manipulated by older children, it’s still important to model the behavior you want to see. This means avoiding harsh judgments and sarcasm and instead showing and requesting considerate behavior and respectful communication.
Parent Magazine advises parents to allow the children to feel what they are feeling. Allow children like or not like other members of the family, feel angry or sad or miss the other parent.