When blending your family you need well-thought-out boundaries.
Second marriages that involve children demand more preparation than first marriages. Not only do you want to be happy in your new marriage, you also want your children to be happy. For that reasons, there are many topics that need to be discussed and issues that have to be agreed on before blending your family.
9 Topics The Two Of You Should Talk About Before Blending Your Families Into One:
1. Define what you each bring to the table that will have a positive influence on each other’s children.
There are reasons you fell in love with this person and, if you are a parent, some of those reasons were because you thought, he/she was a good parent. Encourage each other to use those parenting skills in a way that positively impacts your children.
2. Define how each parent will be able to promote healthy bonding with the children.
This can be done in numerous ways. You may feel it is important that each parent spend alone time with the other’s children in order to promote a strong bond. In the end, it’s about doing things that help your children build trust in this new person in their lives.
3. Define how you will each support the other in your roles as step-parent.
Children, especially our own are great at manipulating. Discuss and come up with solutions for having each other’s backs in front of the children to keep down any manipulation.
4. Define what needs to be done to promote a happy and healthy home environment for the children.
We all know that children flourish in conflict-free homes. Discuss how you will handle arguments or disagreements with each other. And, there is the issue of who the children will be surrounded by in their home. If Uncle Harry is a belligerent drunk, he probably needs to be kept at arm’s length and not allowed past the front door.
Also, being able to provide each child a space of their own for sleeping, hanging with friends and getting away from the rest of the family when they need a break is imperative.
5. Define steps that need to be taken by both parents that promote a show of respect toward a step-child.
You should love your step-children as an extension of your new spouse. Healthy love means treating the step-children with the same, kindness, concern, consideration and respect you will your new spouse. For children to flourish they need to feel cared about!
6. Define what steps will be taken to resolve conflict in the blended family.
Once you’ve decided on a way to resolve conflict, discuss it with the children. Children can be cruel, especially towards one another. Let them know there are clear boundaries and the repercussions of any unacceptable behaviors.
7. Share expectations you both have as your role of step-parent.
It’s important to discuss this before marriage but, it may take time after the marriage for roles to be firmly established. What role each parent will play in the blended family will depend largely on that parent’s lifestyle. If the step-mom works her role will differ drastically from that of the step-mom who doesn’t work.
8. Make a list of the steps you both need to take that will nurture your relationship and your marriage.
If it wasn’t for the relationship you two have there wouldn’t be a blended family. Nurturing the bond between the two of you promotes a healthier blended family. Stay connected, don’t lose each other in the stress of everyday life and, above all, make time for time alone together.
9. Make strict guidelines when it comes to discipline of the children and what role each parent will play.
Your home needs to have well thought out boundaries when it comes to what behavior is and isn’t acceptable. And, as a step-parent, you need to be careful to avoid improper discipline of a step-child. It’s my opinion that the best way to keep down conflict over child discipline is to let each parent be in charge of disciplining their own child.
My mother used to say, wait until your father gets home, young lady.” She was passing the buck to him and letting herself off the hook. Not a good practice when dealing with family of origin discipline. Probably the best practice when dealing with discipline in a blended family.
What are your next steps? Putting into action the decisions you’ve made!