We want to go into our new lives together with our eyes wide open. Here's what we learned:
- Expect the unexpected. Bringing two families together doesn't always mean a harmonious mix. The results can be more like oil and vinegar.
- Blended families are different. Recognize the uniqueness.
- It generally takes three to seven years to successfully blend a family.
- Who disciplines the children? Generally, leave discipline to the birth parent but support each other. Discuss the issues behind the scenes, not in
front of the children, but present a unified decision.
- Whose family traditions will be upheld? The answer is both, sometimes. Other times it means making new family traditions.
- Be prepared to deal with ex-spouses and extended families, because struggles will ensue. New alliances will be formed. Be an adult and be prepared to compromise, while sticking to your values.
- Don't have impossible expectations for your spouse's children. It leads to alienation and anger on both sides.
- Don't get frustrated when your spouse doesn't enforce rules with their children. Develop house rules together.
- Know what your role is as a stepparent. The children need your friendship and to know you won't come between them and their birth parents.
- Don't get frustrated with the back-and-forth nature of blended families. Life changes rapidly with two households. Be prepared for constant change.
- Don't become resentful over your changing role as a stepparent and spouse. Getting remarried means you've lost some of the control over your own life and that of your children.
- Learn to deal being rejected by stepchildren, ex-spouses and ex-extended family. Learn to communicate your feelings in a healthy manner to all concerned.
- Remarrying does not mean the end of financial challenges. Be prepared for constraints.
- Be ready for your new spouse to not love your children the way you do. You've had a lifetime with them. Allow time for adjustments.
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Recipe for harmony
What one family learned about "blending:"