Blended families generally consist of a couple and their children from all relationships, and they’re becoming more common every year. According to the 2009 census, upwards of 16% of children live in a blended family, and upwards of 1,300 new blended families form every single day.
Going from being a single parent to being a part of a blended family can be challenging. Here are a few tips and tricks to help make that transition easier to navigate.
8 Tips For The New Step-Parent
1. Remember That It’s a Big Change
Becoming a blended family is a major change for everyone involved. It also ends up being more challenging for children than it is for adults, especially young ones who don’t have any context to help them understand what’s going on. Be patient with everyone and prepare for conflicts. Know how to defuse stressful situations before they get out of hand.
2. Talk About Parenting Styles Before You Move In
Discuss your parenting styles with your significant other before you cross that final bridge and bring everyone together. Figure out where you agree, where you differ and where you need to compromise, as well as who is responsible for things like doling out corrective action. Have that conversation as early as possible so you have plenty of time to iron out all the details.
3. Adapt As Necessary to Manage Age Differences
Different-age children will respond to becoming a blended family in various ways. Teenagers might rebel dramatically, while younger children might have tantrums or act out because they don’t understand what’s happening. All they know is that things are changing. You’ll need to be adaptable in response to this. Deal with issues related to age differences as they come up, and remember to be patient and communicate with both the children and your partner.
4. Be Open About Mental Health
People often consider mental health a taboo topic, but if you’re making your way toward becoming a blended family, you need to keep everyone’s mental wellness in mind. Start the conversation, especially with those who are old enough to use social media.
These sites, and the internet as a whole, are an integral part of our lives, but they can also be detrimental to our mental health. This factor is especially true if other things are happening in your life that could have adverse effects.
5. Don’t Make Your Children Choose
Ultimatums are your worst enemy when it comes to creating a successful blended family. Don’t make your kids choose, whether that means deciding between parents or where they want to live. If you do reach a point where decisions are necessary, have a conversation with your partner first to ensure you’re on the same page with parenting your collective children.
6. Be Ready to Co-Parent
When it comes to blended families, co-parenting doesn’t just mean the relationship between you and your partner. It means being ready to deal respectfully with any living ex-partner that may have had a parenting role in your children’s lives. Co-parenting is a part of any parent/step-parent relationship, regardless of the situation. Don’t make it a battle. Doing this will make your life harder, and it isn’t fair to any kids involved either.
7. Make It About Respect
When you’re bringing together multiple families, not everyone is going to like one another. Some people will butt heads, that’s part of life. While you can’t make everyone like each other, it should always be about respect. You can respect someone you don’t like and building a blended family on this principle is the best choice for everyone. Lead by example and practice this principle with others in every situation you encounter.
8. Take Care of Yourself Too
Caring for your kids and your partner’s kids are challenging. It’s easy to forget one of the most important rules, that you need to take care of yourself too. Don’t let putting everyone else first prevent you from practicing self-care.
Work with your partner so you can take a break, even if it’s something as simple as an uninterrupted bath or a solo trip to the grocery store. Caring for your mind and body allows you to be a better parent and partner, which is why it’s essential to avoid leaving your wellbeing on the back burner.
Be Patient With Each Other and Yourself
Coming together as a blended family is probably one of the most challenging yet rewarding things you will ever do. It’s a significant change that may be difficult for members of your growing family to adapt to, but it is becoming more common with each passing year.
If you find yourself in a situation where you’re going to become part of a blended family, be patient with yourself and your new relatives.