Be Patient & Manage Your Expectations

Joining families takes time, so it is important to be patient and manage your expectations. Your kids might not be fully adjusted and on board right away, and that’s okay. It’s normal for kids to feel uneasy or uncertain during this transition, so give them some time and let them know that you and your partner are there to support them! 

You may also realize that your blended family may not look exactly like you expected. Be open to redefining your expectations and be willing to adapt as your family grows and changes over time! As time goes on, continue to work towards building stronger and healthier relationships and approach your new family with an open mind and open heart! With time, you will become stronger and more connected. 

Set Aside Time to Unite Your Family

Bonding as a family takes time and effort, so it’s important to set aside time to spend together, helping you build connections and nurture relationships! This doesn’t have to look like carving out large chunks of time or planning big activities or outings. It can be as simple as having regular family dinners, spending Sunday afternoons playing games or watching movies, or reading a story before bedtime for younger children. Regardless of what your family time looks like, we encourage you to try and do 3 family activities a week. The more you can build family time into your daily and weekly routines, the easier it will be to implement it into your lives!

Work Towards Successful Co-parenting

An important part of promoting stability and structure during the big transition of forming a blended family, is to continue to engage in positive co-parenting with your ex-partner if they are a part of you and your children’s lives. Your child still has a relationship with your ex-partner, so it is important to try your best to be positive and supportive of their relationship. This includes making an effort to co-parent with your ex-partner. This may not always be easy, and it doesn’t mean that you need to be best friends with your ex. However, it does mean that you and your ex need to try your best to continue to provide consistency and stability for your child. This may look like communicating regularly about schedules, rules, and discipline to ensure that your child is not receiving mixed messages. 

Part of positive co-parenting with ex-partners in a blended family means that it is important for new partners and ex-partners to try their best to form good co-parenting relationships! When you, your ex, your new partner, and possibly your ex’s new partner are all able to get along and work together to parent collaboratively, your kids will feel more supported and confident that they can trust the adults in their lives. This will also help you kids feel loved, valued, and secure as their family adapts and changes, providing a sense of stability during what may often feel like an uncertain time.

Know that effective and positive co-parenting with your ex-partner likely won’t happen overnight. It will take some time to learn how to work together in this new context, so try your best to be patient!

Hold Family Meetings to Promote Communication

A great way to help your family transition more smoothly into a blended family, is to have regular family meetings! Family meetings create a space for each family member to bring up important issues or concerns to be discussed and processed. This can be particularly empowering for kids, who may not always feel like they have a voice or space to process their feelings during a time of big changes and transitions! Family meetings also allow for parents to clearly communicate rules and expectations, while giving kids an opportunity to provide input, increasing their likelihood of buying into family rules and expectations.

Though it’s not realistic to expect every family meeting to go smoothly, there are some steps you can take to help make sure family meetings are a constructive and positive experience! 

Before starting family meetings, it’s important for you and your partner to get on the same page about ground rules for meetings, such as being respectful of one another’s feelings, actively listening when other family members are speaking, and allowing each person to have a turn to express their feelings and/or concerns related to a potential issue or topic. Once you’ve established some ground rules, communicate them clearly with each family member at the start of the meeting and continue to remind family members of the rules when needed. 

When having a family meeting, it is also important to be clear about the reason the meeting is happening, while providing space for family members to bring up other concerns they may have. Another key component of successful family meetings is to provide space for each family member to share their feelings and/or reactions, while acknowledging and validating these feelings/reactions. 

If you notice that your family is having a hard time working through an issue, consider focusing on finding a middle ground, where everyone feels like they are heard and their needs are being met. Know that this is not always easy and may take some time.

Finally, when ending a family meeting, highlight the positives within your family and point out strengths of each family member. This will help members of the family feel valued and appreciated, while strengthening your family! 

A United Front

No two parents are alike. Everyone has their own parenting style and way of doing things when it comes to raising kids. You and your partner probably don’t agree on everything as parents, and that’s okay. Even though you don’t always have to agree, it’s important to have a conversation with your partner about how you both plan on approaching parenting as a blended family. Coming to a place of compromise and mutual understanding is essential to showing up as a united front for your kids! When you and your partner have a clear plan for parenting, your kids will have a greater sense of security and will know what to expect, helping to ease the transition of joining families. 

Families are complex and parenting can often be unpredictable, so it’s okay if you’re not always sure about how to best handle a situation. There’s no way to predict every challenge, so it’s important to have an ongoing conversation about how you and your partner want to approach parenting!

Healthy Blended Families: Series Intro

 

A blended family forms when two people make a life together with the children from their previous relationships. Blended families create an opportunity for deep and meaningful connections between all family members; however, it may take some time for everyone to adjust and reach this point. Joining two families is a big change, and it can feel scary and uncertain at first, especially for children who are not used to what their new family looks like. It’s normal for blended families to hit some bumps in the road during this big life transition!

Blended families face unique challenges, such as navigating co-parenting with ex-partners, learning how to parent together as a couple, developing new sibling relationships, and fostering a healthy parent-child relationship with your partner’s kids. Though bringing your families together may be difficult, this process can also be extremely rewarding and can lead to a warm and loving blended family!

By being proactive about tackling potential challenges, parents can help ease the transition of melding their families. HRI will be sharing tips throughout the rest of this week to help ease the transition of joining families and help you build a happy, healthy, and safe blended family!

Talk to Yourself in A Loving Way

Our relationship with ourself is just as important as our relationships with our loved ones! An important part of working on your relationship with yourself is being intentional about avoiding negative self-talk, especially when you make mistakes. Be gentle with yourself when you make mistakes; you are deserving of self-forgiveness. Treat yourself with grace, compassion, and kindness!