8 TIPS FOR SUCCESSFULLY BLENDING REMARRIED FAMILIES -by Christine Nelson Taylor, LPC
Re-marriages of divorced parents can create difficult transitions for the blended family, and love alone can’t fix everything. Each member brings their own set of expectations of how the newly configured family will function, and when these aren’t met, feelings of disappointment, hurt and hopelessness often set the tone.
Here are eight tips to help alleviate some of the hardships and make the transition successful for everyone involved.
1. Be patient. Time and hard work are essential in nurturing and growing the new family unit.
2. Create an early agreement on parenting styles and house rules. If parents are aligned, children will have an easier time adjusting to their new family structure.
3. Give the kids a voice. Let them know that their feelings matter. Engage both sets of kids in brainstorming family rules, discipline, and behavioral guidelines. This open kind of discussion, where the parents maintain the authority, but include the children’s point of view, helps build bonds, self-worth, and understanding.
4. Develop new rituals, such as a family date night, or Sunday afternoon outing. Share who chooses each activity. This will promote a deeper understanding of the needs and wants of each member.
5. Answer your kids’ questions honestly. By setting an example of open communication, you will help take away the awkwardness or uncomfortable feelings surrounding sensitive topics or issues. It also helps to prevent blow-ups from held-in feelings.
6. Consider the complex relationships between each family member. Spend time discovering how each family member feels cared for and special. This will facilitate adjustments to interactions, private time, and promote sharing.
7. Learn from other families. Listen to the experiences of others going through similar circumstances. Find out what worked for them and what didn’t. Share your own stories.
8. Check out the “Blended Family Friday” series on Huffington Post for insights from and about other families: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/28/blended-family-_n_5044972.html
Gurnee Counseling Center offers several options for helping re-married families sort through issues and develop strategies for successfully blending their lives. Call us for more information on how we can help: (847) 336-5621.