These days, many first-time marriages end in divorce. This doesn’t mean that ex-spouses plan to stay single for the rest of their lives. Most divorced people, especially those with children, fall in love with a new partner and eventually choose to get married or move in together. Blending a family can be a real challenge, but it’s certainly not impossible. Here are a few things we learned from successful blended families.
Be Prepared To Learn As You Go
Despite what comedy television shows purport, blending a family is not always funny. Sometimes, creating a cohesive household from two one-parent families is a struggle, especially where boundaries are concerned. Consistency and respect are two factors that contribute mightily to the success of any family unit, notes iMom.
Don’t expect your new spouse’s kids to fall in love with you right away. It’s a good idea to get to know each other’s kids well before the wedding day. You’ll want your kids to meet their new step siblings before the nuptials, too. They may get along swimmingly.
On the other hand, there’s the possibility they won’t like each other at all. Don’t force a friendship. It’s impossible to do, and may make it harder for the kids to get to know and like each other on their own terms and in their own time.
Ditch Resentments and Work Out the Rules Together
It may not be easy, but it’s in everyone’s best interest that adult problems not be aired in front of the kids. Don’t talk bad about your ex, and don’t denigrate their new spouse, if they have one. Choose peace and act civilly always. It will teach your kids how to deal with adversity with grace and politeness.
Remember, too, that co-parenting is a tough job that ought to be approached with a sense of unity. Have a calm, sit-down talk and work out “the rules” as they will apply to your new blended family. Huffington Post recently interviewed a number of blended families and asked them how they made it work. Nicole is a step-mom who said:
If we had to offer any advice to other families it would be have a common set of ground rules and agree on them first. Show fairness across the board and keep things on as scheduled and predictable a basis as possible. The kids don’t deserve anything less.”
Don’t Forget Date Night, Just Because You’re Married
Now is as important a time as any to keep the spark of romance alive. Hire a sitter, clean the burger wrappers out of the Dodge Dart and head out for dinner and a movie. If the budget’s a bit tight, go for a leisurely drive and hold hands all the way.
Blending a family is all about love. Two parents who love and respect one another as well as their kids provide a sweet example that anyone could emulate.
Phoebe Stevens has 2 young kids of her own, and 2 older step-children who visit regularly. She writes about parenting, blended families, and general daily life as a Mom.