Considering that around three-quarters of divorced Americans go on to remarry and have more children, blended families are becoming the new normal. But is it really possible to blend families peacefully and happily?
The answer is yes. Blending a family can actually be quite wonderful. A bigger family means more opportunities for joy, laughter, and meaningful new connections. But it takes time, patience, consistency and compassion.
The following are some helpful suggestions for navigating the unique challenges that come with forming a blended family.
Experts say it takes anywhere between two to five years to truly establish a blended family. The roles you assumed when you were dating your partner change after marriage. Whereas you may have been the fun girlfriend your stepchildren saw just a few times a month, you now have become one of the parental figures in charge.
It takes time for everyone to adjust to the new roles everyone plays in each other’s lives. Allow everyone involved plenty of time and space to process their feelings during this time of transition.
As a stepparent, you will inevitably have to discipline your spouse’s children and your spouse will have to discipline yours. This is a tough pill for many stepparents to swallow, in particular when all they really want is to be liked.
The easiest way to manage house rules and routines is with regularity. You and your spouse can start by establishing the values you want to promote in the home and the discipline techniques both agree on. Make sure that any disciplinary actions are applied the same for all the children.
From there, settle on basic house rules to foster structure and respect in the home. Staying on the same page prevents kids from trying to pit one parent against another. That said, experts recommend the primary parent issue consequences for their own children – at least in the early stages of life as a stepfamily.
Creating a blended family is an enormous adjustment, not only for the children – but also for you, your spouse, and your exes. Understand that everyone is going to need time to adjust and grow to trust each other.
The best way to encourage this is with compassion, kindness, and lots of reassurance. Your children need to know that they will not be overlooked. Your step-children need to know they are important to you. Further, you and your spouse need time to nurture your marriage during the honeymoon phase and with every passing year.
Feelings of jealousy, resentment, and even fear of the unknown are normal for blended families. With unconditional love, kindness, compassion and support, parents can help children open up and embrace this new family structure.
The Somerville Family Law Firm of Lyons & Associates, P.C. Helps Blended Families Thrive with Smart Mediation
In an effort to model healthy and peaceful dispute resolution, many divorcing couples choose to work through family law matters through mediation with the Somerville family law firm of Lyons & Associates, P.C. Decisions regarding child custody, parenting time, alimony, and property can all be made outside of the court room with mediation.
To get started, call 908-575-9777 or contact us online. Located in Somerville, the firm serves clients throughout New Jersey including but not limited to Somerville, Somerset, Woodbridge, Morristown, Parsippany, Rockaway, Short Hills, Chatham, Randolph, Madison, and Morris Plains.