No Two Blended Family Relations Are Exactly The Same
Blended families are born differently in just about every situation. Each member of a blended family will adjust to their new reality in their own unique ways. It’s important to take the circumstances each family and each family member has experienced when the blending begins. Being considerate of how the children will adjust is key.
Blended Families Will Experience Rough Times
As much as we want to have that fairytale experience, everyone meeting, hitting it off and gleefully singing camp songs by a fire, blended families will face some bumps in the road. Conflict in traditional families is normal, considering the unique challenges that blending personalities from two families presents, conflict is bound to arise. Though conflict within your new family can be unpleasant, consider it an opportunity to learn how to address inevitable issues and get to know each other better.
We have high hopes when blending our families, which may tempt us to ignore problems and hope they’ll go away. As a family it is imperative that we deal issues before they much larger difficulties that will certainly become harder to deal with if left to fester. Parents need to be on the same page in terms of how problems will be addressed and resolved. And it is equally important to develop the trust of the children that any difficulties or challenges they are facing won't be ignored. The tried and true “Family Meeting” is one of the best ways to get things out in the open and get everyone on the same page.
Forming Relationship within your Blended Family will takes time
Because its unlikely the transition into your blended family will be conflict-free, it will likely take time to develop relationships between all of your family members. Differences in ages, tastes, experiences and even cultures can affect the time and ability it takes for each individual to adjust to their new family members. Parents of course experience the difficulties of adjusting to new relationships the most. The children are often wary of the step-parent and aren't likely to immediately warm up to them as a parental figure.
Have a plan for how you intend to blend
Even before you've met your new partner in blending, its good idea to think about how you will handle the process of blending your family with someone else's. What role do you expect for them to have in your children's lives, how involved do you expect them be, what kind of temperament do they need to have to successfully mesh with your kids? Once you have met the special someone that looks as though things are going to get serious with, its necessary to discuss the how you plan to introduce your children into the relationship. Difficult issues like discipline, rules, religion, etc should be discussed at length. It's essential that each parent discuss their plans with their own kids separately and listen to what they have to say about the forthcoming changes in their lives and when the time is right, sit down with both families to discuss the upcoming arrangement. Unfortunately, even the most well planned transition for your new family often don’t turn out exactly as expected but don't let it deter you, every new relationship needs time to breathe and grow. And the complex makeup of a blended family is no exception.
Blended Families are challenging, ease into it
One of the most important aspects of blending a family that we found in our experience, was the matter of time. When we were dating, the question was, when was the right time for the kids to meet? While each couples timetable will be unique, they should consider how comfortable they are in their relationship, how serious is the relationship how realistic is the possibility that you will tie the knot? Consider the time that's passed since your divorce(s) or break-ups. Is your child ready or willing to accept a new parent in their lives? For us, we were open with our kids that we were dating, but kept details (like who what when where) to a minimum until we were really serious about our relationship. It was close to a year that we dated before we introduced the kids over dinner at a pizza restaurant. This timeframe worked well for us. For you, the time may be longer or shorter, but be sure to avoid projecting your excitement for your new relationship on to your kids. Chances are they will need some time to warm up to the idea.
When blending your families, issues will come up, but being prepared to face challenges with a plan will help you accept them as part of your new family’s growing process. Even after all the challenges and uphill battles many blended families experience along the way, they still often manage to develop into stronger family unit.