Blended families are beautiful but adjusting to this new familial situation will often take some time. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry states that, on average, a typical blended family can take 1-2 years to adjust fully.
Change can be difficult, especially when it includes new step-family members, rules, and habits. To assist with this transition, our attorneys have outlined some key practices parents can implement to help ease the tension and create space for a smoother adjustment.
Talk It Out
From the initial divorce to entering this new adventure of joining families, it is no secret a lot has changed. Everyone deals with change differently, but we all have the need to feel validated by having our thoughts heard.
If your spouse or children are expressing feelings of discontent or aggravation, the best thing to do is sit down and talk about it. This is a great way to build trust, which is a crucial stepping stone on the path to a successful family dynamic.
Put Yourself In Their Shoes
It can sometimes be difficult to see life through someone else’s point of view. We urge you to remember that everyone is going through this big change and dealing with it their own way.
Your children, specifically, tend to have a tougher time because they did not have much of a say in the decisions made to get to this point. Put yourself in their shoes and try to see things from their perspective. Doing so will help you understand them more and will provide more direction when dealing with future issues that may arise.
Agree On Discipline Strategies
Rule changes may be necessary but should be discussed between partners prior to implementation of said rules or disciplines. Do not automatically assume that your past discipline tactics should be the same tactics used on your partner’s children. It can be unfair to change the rules overnight. Additionally, disciplinary action needs to be the same from both parents to help avoid inconsistency and confusion.
It can be easy to get caught up in the “yours, mine, and ours” of this new situation. We encourage you to push the “yours'' and “mine” aspects to the background and focus on the “ours”. Even if there are no biological children between you and your partner, it is important to care for their children as much as your own. Again, it is likely your partner’s kids did not have a say in this new change, and by choosing their parent, you also chose them. Remember to treat them as such.
Being part of a blended family can bring so much love and joy into people’s lives. While the adjustment may come with some difficulties, it is important to understand the points of view of everyone involved. Communication is a key factor to building trust and ensuring the smoothest transition possible.