Every family aims to develop a strong bond and positive dynamic, which always presents some challenges. When it comes to blending two different families, those challenges can sometimes seem more difficult. Some families seem to click, while others take years to create an environment that’s comfortable for everyone, and that’s OK. Here are a few tips to consider if you’re trying to successfully blend your family.
Prioritize One on One relationships
Some parents are so eager to be “one big happy family” that they move too fast and compromise the building of the one to one relationships that are so crucial to a solid family dynamic. Your relationship may have moved quickly with your significant other, but it takes a lot of time and effort to build trust as a new parental figure in the life of a child who you may not have a long history with.
Stepparents need time alone with their stepchildren to get to know them, and learn to appreciate who they are and what they like, away from the rest of the family. Setting aside 15-30 minutes a few times a week for “alone time” with your stepchild will give them that time they need to establish a trusting relationship. It will also allow you to find common interest and create a space that feels relaxed and safe for each of you. This type of activity builds the foundation for you to grow a long lasting, healthy relationship.
Parents also need to prioritize time with their own children so that they don’t become resentful to your stepchildren who may be taken up much of your attention. Remember to treat both sets of children evenly.
Be supportive of the transition that the children are going through. It can be very emotionally a physically taxing for children who move back and forth from one household to another. It’s especially easy for feelings to erupt during this time, so if a child is upset about going go her other parent’s house, or about something completely unrelated, listen intently and show them you care. Allowing your child to cry when they need to is healthy and will give them some crucial time to let out their emotions. Making room for your child’s feelings will show them you care and will go a long way in improving your relationship with them.
Create Opportunities For Laughter
Laughter is sometimes the best medicine for tense situations. It can be used strategically during rough days or to build relationships within the family. To come up with some ideas on how to create situations for laughter, look for places where your children laugh or keep the laughter going. Even if the activity is silly and feels unnatural to you, don’t be afraid to be the goofy one if it makes your child laugh.
Find A Champion
Find someone who can listen to you and encourage you. Talking about the stresses of blended families is essential for you to keep yourself mentally healthy. Try looking for someone outside of your family to get support from. This could be a friend, neighbor, or professional. Use this resource to talk about the challenges you face, the things that drive you crazy, and the things you appreciate about your blended family. This type of venting is an incredible tool that can be used to relieve stress and tension. If you find a professional who specializes in blended families or parenting then you may even be able to walk away with some solid tactics and techniques you can implement that are unique to your situation.
Plan Activities That Will Unite The Family
As a step parent, it’s easy to feel like the odd parent out. Find activities that all family members can participate in and do together. Scheduling a set activity that happens every week is one thing that you could implement as a family. Make sure whatever activity you plan is something that everyone actually wants to do and is excited about. Dragging your child to do something that the have no interest in doing could have the opposite effect that you’re looking for.
Always Speak Positively Of Other Parents
Although it may seem obvious, it’s not always easy. When emotions are flowing, it’s easy to say something negative about your ex out of anger or frustration. Avoid doing this at all costs! All children want their parents to be respected and all parents deserve respect. Children should not have to be in the middle of conflict between parents who are no longer together. What a child really wants is for their parents to get along. If you feel your anger rising against your child’s mother or father, take a few moments before speaking and ask yourself how your words will make your child feel.
Prioritize Self Care.
Even the most dedicated parent can become burned out. As a stepparent, you need to find a place to go to blow off steam and refresh yourself. That might be taking a walk or hike, reading a book, or calling a family member when things get to be too much. Taking care of yourself during this time will help give you the stamina you need to get through all of the challenging moments.