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new step-parent

Navigating a Blended Family: 8 Tips For The New Step-Parent

new step-parent

 

Blended families generally consist of a couple and their children from all relationships, and they’re becoming more common every year. According to the 2009 census, upwards of 16% of children live in a blended family, and upwards of 1,300 new blended families form every single day.

Going from being a single parent to being a part of a blended family can be challenging. Here are a few tips and tricks to help make that transition easier to navigate.

8 Tips For The New Step-Parent

1. Remember That It’s a Big Change

Becoming a blended family is a major change for everyone involved. It also ends up being more challenging for children than it is for adults, especially young ones who don’t have any context to help them understand what’s going on. Be patient with everyone and prepare for conflicts. Know how to defuse stressful situations before they get out of hand.

2. Talk About Parenting Styles Before You Move In

Discuss your parenting styles with your significant other before you cross that final bridge and bring everyone together. Figure out where you agree, where you differ and where you need to compromise, as well as who is responsible for things like doling out corrective action. Have that conversation as early as possible so you have plenty of time to iron out all the details.

3. Adapt As Necessary to Manage Age Differences

Different-age children will respond to becoming a blended family in various ways. Teenagers might rebel dramatically, while younger children might have tantrums or act out because they don’t understand what’s happening. All they know is that things are changing. You’ll need to be adaptable in response to this. Deal with issues related to age differences as they come up, and remember to be patient and communicate with both the children and your partner.

4. Be Open About Mental Health

People often consider mental health a taboo topic, but if you’re making your way toward becoming a blended family, you need to keep everyone’s mental wellness in mind. Start the conversation, especially with those who are old enough to use social media.

These sites, and the internet as a whole, are an integral part of our lives, but they can also be detrimental to our mental health. This factor is especially true if other things are happening in your life that could have adverse effects.

5. Don’t Make Your Children Choose

Ultimatums are your worst enemy when it comes to creating a successful blended family. Don’t make your kids choose, whether that means deciding between parents or where they want to live. If you do reach a point where decisions are necessary, have a conversation with your partner first to ensure you’re on the same page with parenting your collective children.

6. Be Ready to Co-Parent

When it comes to blended families, co-parenting doesn’t just mean the relationship between you and your partner. It means being ready to deal respectfully with any living ex-partner that may have had a parenting role in your children’s lives. Co-parenting is a part of any parent/step-parent relationship, regardless of the situation. Don’t make it a battle. Doing this will make your life harder, and it isn’t fair to any kids involved either.

7. Make It About Respect

When you’re bringing together multiple families, not everyone is going to like one another. Some people will butt heads, that’s part of life. While you can’t make everyone like each other, it should always be about respect. You can respect someone you don’t like and building a blended family on this principle is the best choice for everyone. Lead by example and practice this principle with others in every situation you encounter.

8. Take Care of Yourself Too

Caring for your kids and your partner’s kids are challenging. It’s easy to forget one of the most important rules, that you need to take care of yourself too. Don’t let putting everyone else first prevent you from practicing self-care.

Work with your partner so you can take a break, even if it’s something as simple as an uninterrupted bath or a solo trip to the grocery store. Caring for your mind and body allows you to be a better parent and partner, which is why it’s essential to avoid leaving your wellbeing on the back burner.

Be Patient With Each Other and Yourself

Coming together as a blended family is probably one of the most challenging yet rewarding things you will ever do. It’s a significant change that may be difficult for members of your growing family to adapt to, but it is becoming more common with each passing year.

If you find yourself in a situation where you’re going to become part of a blended family, be patient with yourself and your new relatives.

The post Navigating a Blended Family: 8 Tips For The New Step-Parent appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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5 Travel Tips for Blended Families

5 Travel Tips for Blended Families

Traveling with a blended family can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. Below are 5 tips to help relieve the stress of blended family travel.

The post 5 Travel Tips for Blended Families appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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blended family life

4 Tips For Helping Your Kids Adjust To Blended Family Life

blended family life

 

According to statistics, there are many more stepfamilies today than there were a decade ago. And the number is projected to grow steadily. It is, therefore, essential for you as the mom in a blended family to help the children make necessary adjustments because such situations hit kids the hardest.

Below are a few ways you can help the kids make the adjustments required for their new, blended way of life.

Helping Your Kids Adjust To Blended Family Life

Explain the unique situation to the kids

As mentioned earlier, kids are the most affected when their parents either die or get divorced. Therefore, it would be a good idea for you as the mom to make ample time and talk to the kids involved. Acknowledge the difficulties they are going through and give them a pat on the back for being so brave. Then assure them by promising to be with them every step of the way.

Knowing that they have a strong and understanding mom who is ready to help will make the adjustment much easier for the kids, whether they’re yours or not.

Acknowledge their losses and help them through it

Blended families come as a result of deaths, divorces, or nasty breakups. Once again, the kids are usually hit the hardest when they lose a parent (or both their parents). The latter explains why kids are often very reluctant to accept blended families. As a caring mother, or stepmother, acknowledging their pain and at the same time helping them through it will make the transition much easier for the kids.

Helping kids through their pain is easier said than done. Some kids will outright disrespect you or throwing nasty tantrums in the name of coping with their new situation. If the latter happens, then it would be in your best interest to seek professional help. Once you’ve helped the kids overcome their pain, they’ll gradually start warming up to the idea of a blended family.

Nurture existing relationships

Just because you’ve forged a new, complicated relationship doesn’t mean death to the old ties that existed before the blended family. Therefore, it would be a good idea for you and your children to keep your old family traditions. If you used to watch movies or go bike riding once a month, stick to doing that because it will only make the transition gradual and as natural as possible.

You can also encourage your new man to do the same with his kids since they need help as well. Afterward, you can slowly create and introduce new family traditions with the blended family without getting rid of the old ones. Feel free to set your nice alarm panel to remind you of the times you and your kids ought to be doing your usual activities.

Encourage respect

Respect is the glue that holds together all kinds of relationships. And since blended families happen to be complex relationship structures, the more you have to emphasize respect since everything can fall apart so easily. You can start by letting the kids know the importance of respecting each other’s boundaries as well as privacy. There should be consequences if anyone doesn’t recognize anyone in the new family setting.

A final word

Being a member of a blended family can be challenging, especially if there are more kids involved. Therefore, it would be in your best interest to try and approach the situation with a lot of care. Try listening to the kids and letting them know you’ll be there for them every step of the way. If it gets a bit difficult, then don’t hesitate to seek outside help.

Lastly, it’s essential to always remember it gets worse before getting better. Once the children know that the new blended system is meant for them to thrive, they’ll gradually warm up to the idea.

The post 4 Tips For Helping Your Kids Adjust To Blended Family Life appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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5 keys to creating a happy blended family

5 Keys To Creating a Happy Blended Family

5 keys to creating a happy blended family

 

Finding new love and a committed relationship after divorce is a delightful experience. Those positive feelings can, at times, get in the way of the reality of blending two families into one.

Below are 5 keys to creating a happy blended family once you’ve moved forward into a new marriage.

1. Love and Acceptance:

Every member needs to feel loved and accepted by the other members of your blended family. Transitioning into a blended family is difficult for all involved. Parents and children will respond and react differently to the idea of coming together and building relationships. For children, this means building relationships with people they barely know.

For that reason, they may be obnoxious, obstinant and down-right hard to deal with. When this happens it can pit parents against each other and they may begin to see traits in each other that aren’t attractive. The quickest way to defuse angry children and unreasonable new spouses is to show love, acceptance, and empathy for what they are feeling.

If you can step outside yourself and attempt to view the situation from the other person’s perspective, love, acceptance, and empathy will be easy to offer.

2. Security and Attachment:

Healthy relationships can’t be formed if everyone isn’t feeling secure and attached. This problem can be an issue with children who’ve experienced the divorce of their parents. For children, divorce can be traumatic and result in a loss of trust or, an unwillingness to trust again too quickly. Along with love, acceptance, and empathy, children will need quite a bit of reassurance that they are an important part of the new blended family.

It takes time to heal children who are still trying to adjust to their parent’s divorce. It also takes time to bond with children who aren’t used to sharing parents with other people. Validation for what the children are experiencing and consistent love will break down barriers and help children attach to other members of the blended family and begin to feel secure.

3. The Other Parent:

I know a therapist who is also a step-mother. She has no children of her own and has become consumed with every aspect of her stepdaughter’s life. She insists she is at every doctor’s appointment, every parent/teacher conference and part of every decision made about the child’s life. As a result, there is great friction between her and the child’s biological mother.

My therapist friend has crossed boundaries that no step-parent should cross. The job of a step-parent is to respect the biological parent and their boundaries, not the other way around. When boundaries are crossed you are sending your step-child the message that you don’t feel their biological parent is doing a good enough job of parenting.

Never do anything that gets in the way of a step-child bonding with and receiving love from the biological parent. You are the step-parent, not the biological parent, know your place!

4. It Takes Time:

It can take 2 to 8 years for a blended family to navigate the basic stages necessary for developing a sense of harmony and loyalty.  The older the children at the time of blending, the longer it will take for bonding to occur. Blended families will need to pass through many stages, the getting to know each other stage, the forming attachments stage in order to develop into a strong blended family.

Research has shown several models of the stages of development for blended families. Blending is not a smooth process and, knowing that from the outset will go along way in keeping one parent or the other from throwing in the towel when the waters aren’t smooth. You have to be willing to give it time!

5. Not All Problems Are About Blending:

Life, stress and everyday problems have to be dealt with at the same time you are blending your family. Your new blended family can experience problems that have nothing to do with an obnoxious step-child or whether a member has attached and is feeling loved.

As a blended family, you are expected or, will have to deal with all the normal crap life throws your way. Children will grow and develop their own sense of autonomy, spouses will argue, the mortgage will need to be paid and life will go on if you don’t allow outside issues or normal personal changes to interfere with your commitment to maintaining a happy, healthy blended family.

The post 5 Keys To Creating a Happy Blended Family appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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