Blending families can be a tough gig, but there can also be a lot of pluses. We look at how to give your blending a boost, and help everybody mix in the best way possible
What is a blended family?
When people talk about ‘blended families’, they’re usually talking about when two divorced/separated/single parents bring their kids and start living together. What that actually looks like is different for everyone, and there’s no one-way of doing it. It can be an exciting time, but real people aren’t the Brady Bunch! So there can also be sadness, feelings of loss, frustration and anger. And that’s ok. It’s best to be real about it, and talk about it with your partner and your kids heaps of times before it happens.
What are some of the common issues?
You might come-up against a range of issues:
- Anger and blame towards the new side of the family for the change.
- Jealousy between kids.
- Teething issues around adjusting to new routines, rules and boundaries.
- Confusion: ‘who’s in charge of me now?’
- Frustration at having to move to a new area and try to fit in again.
- Awkwardness with fitting in to a new house especially things like sorting out new bedrooms.
- And for you, it might be the case that your relationship with your new partner changes now that everyone is living together under the one roof.
Teens can often feel like the meat in a parent sandwich. Check out this video to see how one family managed the transition into a blended family by involving all 6 (!) kids every step of the way.
There are ups too
We talk a lot about the hard parts of being a blended family. And while those issues are there, there are also heaps of up-sides, too. Blending families is a chance to talk about issues that might have been swept under the rug before. It’s not about pretending that there are no negatives, but if you can focus on the positives, things can actually be much better than they were before. It can also be a great opportunity to start something exciting and new.
How do we blend better?
Some ideas you might like to try:
- Talk about the new ground rules and routines before you move in together. Get everyone’s input, write out what you come up with and put it up somewhere where all can see, like the fridge. This article can help you work through it.
- Focus on what you have in common and do things you all enjoy together. Spend one-on-one time with your step kids as well as your biological kids. This article has some great tips and ideas on how to find things to do.
- Create a family culture where it’s ok to talk about issues. Have dinner together each night where you chat about your day and what’s going on in your life. Sharing things that are happening for you can also help teens open-up about themselves.
- Don’t bad-mouth you or your partner’s ex in front of the kids. If you're having trouble with your ex check out this video on handling conflict.