National Family Day is Thursday, Sept. 26
Did you know that nearly 75 percent of Americans who divorce each year will ultimately find themselves remarried and starting a blended family? Nearly 113.6 million Americans have step-relationships. We all know that quality time spent with family is essential for building lasting relationships. In honor of National Family Day, which is celebrated annually on September 26, we are sharing the top ten tips needed to build a happy and healthy blended family.
1. Take your time before beginning a blended family
After surviving a difficult divorce, you may find the urge to dive right into remarriage to begin a blended family. By taking your time, you give everyone involved the opportunity to acclimate to one another and the idea of marriage.
2. Don’t forget to focus on your relationship with your partner
Couples in a blended family can easily become more consumed with their children than their spouse. However, when children see love, respect, and open communication between you and your spouse, they will feel secure and will be inclined to emulate those qualities. Focus on your relationship, by setting aside time as a couple to go out on dates and by presenting yourselves as a unified parenting front.
3. Map out child-rearing and discipline expectations with your partner
Don’t assume that your style of discipline aligns with your partner’s. It is most important that you talk to your partner about the rules and expectations that existed before you got married to ensure you are both on the same page. This will help make for a smooth transition and will keep your kids from becoming angry at you and/or your new spouse for initiating changes.
4. Develop a schedule and routine
Establishing a routine will help make everyone feel more comfortable and welcome. A shared routine will also provide a sense of comfort and consistency amongst the many changes that take place during a divorce. By introducing at least one new family ritual, such as Sunday lunches, Friday game nights, or fun family traditions, your blended family will have its own way of celebrating together.
5. Get to know your stepchild
Take the time to get to know your stepchild by dedicating some time with just the two of you. Take some time to build blocks together, shoot hoops, attend games or recitals, or make a meal together. By showing an interest in your stepchild’s activities and friends, they will want to include you in their life.
6. Follow your stepchildren’s lead
Because each child is different, let them develop the pace for how quickly you can get to know them. Some children may be more open and willing to engage, and others may not. Introverted children may need more time to warm up to you. However, with enough time and patience, most children will eventually give their new stepparent a chance.
7. Define boundaries
It’s important to discuss the role each stepparent will play in raising their respective children, as well as changes in household rules. Make sure you establish the stepparent as more of a friend or counselor rather than a disciplinarian. The biological parent should take the lead on discipline until the stepparent has developed a relationship with the kids. As a couple, create a list of family rules and discuss the rules with the children. Try to mirror the rules and boundaries in children’s other home to stay consistent.
8. Make sure all parents are involved
Children will adjust better to the blended family if they have access to both biological parents. It is also important that all parents are involved and work toward co-parenting.
9. Communicate openly and often
The way your blended family communicates shows the level of trust between each family member. When communication is clear, open, and often, there are fewer opportunities for confusion and more possibilities for connection.
10. Be patient
Building your blended family will not happen overnight. It typically takes between two and five years for a stepfamily to establish itself. Patience is key because kids of all ages will need time to adjust to the new blended family dynamic.
Led by Kris Balekian Hayes, the family law attorneys of Balekian Hayes PLLC are dedicated to fighting for their clients and their clients’ children. From contested divorces to child possession disputes, to out-of-court mediation and arbitration proceedings, the firm provides the knowledge and expertise needed to help people during what can be one of the most stressful times in their lives. To learn more about Balekian Hayes, visit https://www.bh-pllc.com/.