The Advice You’ve Been Waiting For
If you’ve finally found a wonderful partner and are ready to take it to the next level, that’s fantastic news! However, if one or both of you have minor children at home, this move could be tricky. According to Parents.com, “About 75 percent of the 1.2 million Americans who divorce each year eventually remarry.” Having a household with more children creates new challenges. You can’t meet everyone’s needs at once, especially as kids have different activities and needs.
A viable blended family results from planning and understanding. The most important guiding decision for both parents should be to minimize conflict and insecurity for the children, and you can work everything else out from there.
Defining Your Goals For a Blended Family
Before choosing the steps to build a stable and peaceful blended household, it’s important to set goals. There are logistics to work out. These can include where to live and even the basics like different room arrangements, as well as coordinating schedules so that your children see their other parent and don’t have big changes to their current timetable.
There could be initial or ongoing tensions with the other parents involved, fielding their skepticism bout the new arrangement. These tensions can put your children in an awkward position. At the center of all decisions, this new family should make them feel comfortable and loved, while not isolating them from their other parent and siblings. Once you and your partner choose goals, then you can develop an action plan to accomplish them and respect individual needs as much as possible.
How to Start a Blended Family
All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way -Leo Tolstoy
The goal is to create a happy family, which requires merging two households with sometimes competing beliefs and habits. Situations can arise where you feel intense love for your romantic partner, but this individual may not be the best fit for your kids. He or she may have divergent ideas or attitudes about parenting and even major political, religious, and lifestyle differences. This has the potential to create additional conflict to the tension already possible in the integration process.
The more gradual that you can make this blending process, the better it will be for everyone. Also, when two parents discuss the obstacles to a peaceful household, they may decide it’s better to wait until some or all children from past relationships have finished high school. The most important object when you’re planning how to start a blended family is putting your children’s well-being first and go from there.
Tips to Blending in
If you have experienced the pain and upset of a breakup or divorce before, then you want to beat the odds of getting divorced again and look after your child’s best interests in the process. If all systems are a go, these 5 tips for building a strong, inclusive family unit will make your task easier:
- Schedule mutual opportunities for your kids and your partner’s kids to meet and interact in public first. This should occur at staggered times and should not force them to feel any friendship or kinship bond. Such bonds develop over time.
- Transition to spending time together at your home or your partner’s home once all children are ready. Don’t force them to make the best of it just to please you.
- Reassure all children that you will still love them and be their dedicated parent after moving in together with the new family. Be extra attentive and aware of any insecurities your child might be experiencing.
- Don’t expect children to think of a new partner as a parent. If you get married, the stepparent and stepchild bond will build naturally over time. It can’t be forced. Another possibility is that your child will ask to live more often with his or her other parent because this family feels like too much change. A gradual approach allows time for a child to adapt to a new living situation.
- Don’t let your ex or your partner’s ex dictate what the new family will look like or what your joint living conditions will be. You have the right to build your own household the way that works best for your new family.
You love your new partner, and you love your children. Dating before introducing your kids might begin to feel like the easiest part of building a new family. All these loved ones don’t have to compete for your attention because it’s possible to love multiple people at once and successfully meet their needs. This requires setting boundaries and organizing your schedule and family priorities, but in the midst of it be mindful not to spread yourself too thin.
One of the biggest pitfalls is that kids often feel replaced by their parent’s new life partner or that their other parent is being replaced. Proceed with caution and care and get your children’s input throughout the blending process. Try to ignore outside influences, as the most important people in the process is each member of your family, new and old. Everyone will appreciate being listened to and included in the new household, and with open communication and sensitivity, a beautiful new blended family is possible.