While the U.S. divorce rate is around 50 percent, the divorce rate among blended families is approximately 67 percent so the ‘ happily ever after’ is a little more difficult to achieve in a blended family. But the good news is that most remarried couples can beat the odds of divorce and build a successful blended family if they do the hard work.
Here are some tips for you to achieve harmony in your blended family:
Get on the same page first: Before you decide to blend your families you and your new partner should come together and have a serious discussion about how you both together are going to manage this blended unit. The discussion should be about money, discipline, childcare and any other issues that you haven’t mutually agreed upon yet. This is the most important step in creating harmony in your blended family. Do not assume that you know what your spouses style of discipline. It’s also important to share with them the rules you’ve established in your home from the start to see if your rules are compatible and you can compromise moving forward.
It’s all about the kids: Making sure the kids feel safe, secure and loved is very important in the blended family scenario. Children want to be able to count on both the parent and step parent. Sometimes children feel unheard or invisible when it comes to the choice to blend families. It’s important that you recognize each child’s role in the family and help each family member to feel connected emotionally. You can do this by creating an open and honest environment where people are not judged for how they feel. Show each child that you understand and you hear their concerns and they are valid. Encourage all of the children equally. Set appropriate limits and boundaries. As a step parent- let yourself be second in line when it comes to enforcing rules- but be loving and supportive. Connect with your stepchildren one on one. Find out what their hobbies and interests are and take time to plan something on your own with them. You also need to be able to step back as a step parent and not always include yourself in plans that your spouse has with his or her children.
Be patient: In a book called “The Smart Stepfamily” Ron Deal uses the metaphor of a crock pot to describe a stepfamily. Research shows that blended family formation takes several years, and some children are slow to warm up and accept the step parent. It is important to not push to hard for children to accept a step parent or the blended family unity and to also give step parents time to adjust to parenting a child whom they may need some time to know and love deeply.
In conclusion, blended families can create beautiful memories together if they put in the time and effort. Being prepared is the key and open communication is what will bring harmony into the blended family. Keep your marriage strong, nurture it- make sure your kids see how happy you are together as a couple and as a family. This will ultimately lead you to a successful blended family. For premarital counseling to discuss forming a successful blended family unit or for couples therapy to work on problems related to a blended family, please contact me to book an appointment.