Blending families successfully is not a task to take lightly. You maybe in a situation where you are with the guy/girl of your dreams with the extra “baggage” of his/hers children in tow. There are so many factors involved when you have to blend a family. You have kids that are of different ages… or sometimes, like it was in my case, kids who are REALLY close in age.
When I got married to my ex-husband (yeah we can talk about that in another post), he had eight and nine-year old sons and I had and 8-year-old daughter. She was only 6 months apart from my ex’s 8-year-old. I raised them until they where 18 and then my ex and I split apart. My younger stepson stayed, to this day close to me (he is now 22) and his oldest son doesn’t speak to me at all. I went through my share of tough “blending families” moments. I had THREE in high school at the same time! It was chaos, but I learned a lot on what to do and a lot I wish I could change.
Major factors to consider:
- Are you planning to get married? If so, having the kids involved in the ceremony is very important. I recommend counseling with the whole family before hand. I did the counseling and it made the transition much more smooth…not like the surprise the kids got in the 2005 movie Yours, Mine & Ours 🙂 That movie cracked me up and made me scared at the same time!
- How is the relationship with the ex’s (children’s other parent)? Do both of you get along with your ex’s and each other’s ex’s? If you have the luxury of having even a decent relationship with mutual respect…then you are ahead of the game! If not, this is something you HAVE to try to accomplish. I know it can seem like a daunting task but if you don’t at least try to have a respectful relationship with all the ex’s involved the kids, like hungry wolves, will see the broken relationships as weak sheep in waiting and will pounce! And each parent could be unknowingly pinned against each other… not good but easily diffused!
- Will the kids have their own space or rooms at your home? This is important because if they are anywhere near tween ages, they will be coming into their own identity and will vie for their own privacy. If they have to room-share then clear boundaries in the beginning is key. If they are young (0-11) then you maybe just fine. They may view this as a fun sleepover!
Couple of other things to do:
- Discipline plan. Do you and your partner have a solid discipline plan? If not, make one. All too often, one parent is the “good cop” and the other is the “bad cop”. I had a rough beginning to my marriage. My ex husband thought I couldn’t discipline his kids the same as I did to mine. When he FINALLY wised up and realized how important it was to discipline them with the same rules, then when they got into trouble we discussed punishment. We became a united front to the children to execute these punishments. For years this worked very well!
- Most important of all: Do you both make all the children feel like you love them as your own? If the blended children in this situation feel like you treat them like they are your own, then they feel wanted, important and truly loved. This maybe hard when you have one or more “difficult” child(ren) in the house. It can start to feel like a wedge is beginning to come in-between your relationship with their mother/father (your Significant Other).
You may ask: “What is a perfect blended family?”
In a perfect “blended family” world, the children should feel like there is more love and support surrounding them. The parents would feel like they have a true partner to hold their hand in raising the children. Children would feel like they have potentially four parents who will root for them, love them and protect them.
After my first blended family marriage dissolved, my current fiancé and I have a new blended family. My fiancee and I, my stepson, his mother and stepfather. It seems to be working out well so far. We do have our moments… but they only stem from the desire to be with the child as much as possible. In the end, no matter what our desires are, what our plans turn out to be, before we all make a final decisions (and to stop a possible blow out) we think to ourselves, “what is the best thing for the child?” and our decision always goes to the least confrontational solution. Even if it means we have to swallow our pride.
Reality is, there is no such thing as a “perfect” blended family. As long as you strive to communicate and show love to all the children and adults in the home, your family will be perfect! (even with all the imperfections) 😉
I would love comments on this post, ideas to possibly explore this topic a little more or just your experience in a blended family!
Until the next post!