What’s a “Blended Family”?

And what to do if you are one.

Are you someone who has kids and is about to get into a relationship with someone else who has kids?

Are you a person with no children who is getting married to someone with children and you are about to be a step-parent?

One question I often get asked about is how to parent when you’ve got a blended family.

If the term “blended family” makes you go hmmm…. a blended family is when one or more parent brings a child or children from a previous relationship or marriage into the current one.

For some blended family it’s just a natural extension of their current family.

For others, a blended family can be a rather bumpy road to travel.

If you’re part of the dyad leading a blended family and you haven’t quite found your groove, keep these 3 tips in mind for a bit smoother journey to a happy family life.

How You Raise Your Children vs. How Your Partner Raises Theirs

No matter what situation you find yourself in bringing your own kids into the family or suddenly becoming an overnight parent keep in mind the difference in your parenting styles, beliefs and philosophies.

Couples counseling although seen far too often as something to seek out when a couple is having problems is actually a GREAT tool (of course if done with the right therapist, one who is trained in working with couples) to learn how to communicate about some of these differences in parenting styles.

For those couples who haven’t had the opportunity to discuss differences of opinion on certain topics prior to blending their families, it can be a bit jarring the first time a major blow up occurs.

Worry not!

Growing pains can be part of the process.  If you enter the conversation about your difference coming from a position of curiosity and a desire to understand your partner that will help the conversation for sure!

Parent Your Own Children or Co-Parent?

What Are Your Roles?

I often say that relationships are a business and that figuring out who is responsible for what will make a world of difference when it comes to the happiness and health of your relationship.

Don’t we all perform a little bit better in our lives when we know what’s expected of us?

Agreeing on how responsibilities will be shared can save couples a lot of trouble in the long wrong because things won’t get left undone and no one will feel overwhelmed with all the work.

In blended families, parenting is no different.

You and your partner will need to decide whether you will parent your own children or co-parent and what your roles will look like in either situation.

And no matter what… back each other up especially in front of the kids.  I see far too many couples argue about the parenting conflicts in front of the kids.  This creates a whole other set of issues.  

If you disagree, that’s okay, do that in private, away from the kids.  

Build a Relationship

You can’t speak for your child and you can’t speak for your partner.

It’s important that each adult build and create their own special relationship with each child and don’t try to force it.

Your children, will do better with the transition if they feel respected, supported and honored. Allow them space and time to come to their own conclusion about your partner and do your best not to interfere.  

Keep the dialogue open between you and your children, allowing him/her to ask questions.  

The only time you should interfere is if you have concerns for the safety of your child while in the care or company of your partner.

Blended families are unique, and yours is not exception! Still figuring out how to make the above tips work for you and your family?

I’m just a phone call 954.401.9011 or click away at katie@familyandcouplescounseling.com to help you strengthen these skills.