The term “blended family” is usually used to describe a family that includes both the couple and their children from the current and previous relationships. This type of family comes with its own unique set of challenges, both for the parents and for the children, but it also comes with some wonderful benefits as well. Difficulties and Benefits for Blended Families
One of the biggest challenges of a blended family is coming into a relationship that has already been established. If your partner already has children from a previous marriage or relationship, you must walk the fine line in helping to parent those children without trying to replace the other parent. It can be difficult to determine what kind of role you and your partner will play in the lives of each other’s children, especially if you have different parenting styles or family values. It can also be very stressful to balance the needs of your own children with the needs of your partner’s children – especially if the two of you also have children together.
Though making a blended family work can be very challenging, there are some unique benefits to this type of family situation. Your children have the benefit of having multiple role models – this is especially valuable if the child’s other biological parent is not involved in the child’s life. Having a blended family will force you and your children to deal with difficult situations and to make compromises – it may also help your children to learn how to appreciate diversity. There are also some practical benefits to blended families such as additional emotional or financial support for all members of the family. Tips for Making a Blended Family Work
When you and your partner join together in a blended family with your children, you should expect some challenges at first. The worst thing you can do is to ignore those challenges and to try and keep on living the same way you were before. You, your partner, and all of the children should be prepared to make compromises and you need to have some very real conversations about important issues such as financial responsibility, parenting roles, and expectations for your children. Will you each adopt the other’s children? Will you share responsibility for disciplining your kids? How will you deal with conflicts involving the other partner’s children?
One of the best things you can do to help make your blended family work is to try and see things from your children’s perspective. Understand that adding more children to the family may be difficult for some children and they may worry about getting enough time and attention from their biological parent. Stay in constant communication with your partner and try to agree on a discipline strategy for your kids – do not assume that your partner will adopt your personal strategy or vice versa. Try to dedicate some time to forming a personal relationship with your partner’s children without sacrificing the relationship you have with your own. Make sure that everyone in the family knows that they are loved and that the fact that you are bringing two families together is a good thing, not a bad thing.
In today’s modern world, families come in all shapes and sizes. While there may be challenges that come along with a blended family, there is also the potential for some amazing things to happen. Just keep your eyes open for problems and take steps to resolve them as quickly as you can to keep your family strong.