Blended families have become commonplace in today’s society. Parents are merging families together to create new stepfamilies. While parents may be excited about this shift and creating a future together, it can be more difficult on children. They may not understand exactly what is occurring or be prepared to accept new siblings or a new parent into their life. It often involves many changes and adjustments, and this can seem overwhelming. However, there are numerous ways that parents can help to ease these transitions and build stronger bonds in their blended family.
Be patient. Trying to rush things can cause more stress and complications. Implementing many changes at once can result in confusion and resistance. Recognize that these things take time and everyone may not be the best of friends from the first day. Give it time as both children and parents adjust to their new surroundings and routines. Work through challenges together and be supportive of one another.
Get to know each other. Spend time together learning about each other and what everyone likes and dislikes. Find common bonds and interests to build upon. Plan time with each child to get to know them more personally and allow them to get to know you. Make sure that you and your spouse agree on basic parenting styles so that children know what to expect and what is expected. There may be struggles at first, but remember that everyone is learning to adapt and making compromises.
Make decisions together. Get everyone involved in making decisions, especially major ones. Let children help decide how their room will be decorated, or what to have for dinner. Start new traditions that are special to your blended family. Children can still keep traditions with their other parent, but they will also have new ones to look forward to. Discuss rules and expectations so that everyone is on the same page. Give children a chance to voice their opinion and make sure to validate their concerns.
Build a respectful environment. A key element in creating stronger blended families is establishing respect. As a step-parent, you are not necessarily taking the place of a biological parent. You are a new addition to the child’s life. Refrain from speaking negatively about other family members, especially parents. Treat each other with respect and politeness. Cultivate an environment where children feel comfortable opening up and expressing themselves. This can help to facilitate stronger relationships. Help them to adjust to their new role within the family.
Consider counseling. There are many changes that occur when blending two families together. To help everyone learn to appreciate and respect one another and develop realistic expectations, counseling can prove beneficial. A counselor is a neutral third party and can work with families to recognize and accept their differences. They can help with overcoming challenges, working through difficult situations, and establishing strategies to build relationships.
You can arrange for family counseling as well as couples or individual sessions. Some children may adjust more quickly than others, but counseling can help them to work through their feelings and cope with the changes occurring in their life. At Safe Harbor Christian Counseling, we work with individuals, couples, and families depending on their needs and situation. If you are struggling to find balance and build connections with your blended family, contact us today at 1-800-305-2089 or by visiting http://www.safeharbor1.com to find out more about how our experienced team of professionals can help.