Blending Families: How to Make it Work

Many parents who adopt as singles or as married couples may find themselves with new partners at some point.  If your new partner has children you will then become a blended family. Tv’s The Brady Bunch portrayed a “blended” family sharing good natured laughs and occasional quarrels, but in reality blended families can face serious obstacles on the way to happiness.

You may not be able to completely avoid the rough spots, but there are steps you can take to ease the transition from two separate families into one harmonious one.

  • If possible, move into a new home. This helps decrease the number of turf battles that can crop up when one family moves into the home of another family.
  • Do things as a family. Make a point of eating dinner together every night, for example, so everyone feels included in the new family.
  • Develop new traditions. They can be celebrations unique to your new family, like a special dinner during report-card season or dessert in the living room.
  • Pay attention to your children’s needs. Children want to feel safe, secure and loved. Make a point of listening to their concerns so you can reassure them.
  • Make rules clear. Kids need limits, even though they struggle against them at times. Keep your list of rules short and simple and enforce them consistently.
  • Don’t be afraid of the past. Encourage each other to share past family histories. Its a good way to get to know and understand each other, just as couples who are dating begin to share their pasts.
  • Be patient. The transition won’t take place overnight. Give everyone time to adjust. And don’t assume that every disagreement has its roots in the nature of your blended family. Some arguments are just arguments.
  • Respect your partner. When you disagree, stay calm and try not to let it spill over into your relationship with the rest of the family. Your children need to see that you and your partner are a team.
  • Communicate. Don’t let issues simmer. Talk about your feelings honestly, and don’t punish children for expressing ambivalence or doubts.
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