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Posted August 21, 2012 by Jason in Dads Want to Know
 
 

Tips for Success for Blended Families

The statistics for marriage aren’t terribly encouraging–the average rate of marriages ending in divorce is sitting at around 50%. But what about subsequent relationships? Well, those have an even higher rate of failure: 60% of marriages, especially those that blend families from previous relationships, end in divorce. We all know that it is hard to put together two sets of kids and parents with a lot of history and potential for conflicts, but no one enters a marriage intending for it to end. What are some tips for success for blended families? Here is some practical advice to making the transition easier and smoother.

Become Informed

  • Learn as much as possible about marriage, parenting and how to blend a family.
  • Read books, browse the Internet, use audio and video tools.
  • Attend a workshop or conference on marriage, parenting or how to blend a family at  least once a year.

Acknowledge and Mourn Losses

  • There are losses of all kinds: the dream of a successful marriage, opportunity to
  •    raise your own children from birth, finances, stability, friends, familiar surroundings, daily contact with both parents, etc.
  • Acknowledge that all family members will have experienced significant losses prior to the new family and need an opportunity to grieve them.
  • Children often need to be invited to talk about concerns. They may prefer to talk
  •    with someone other than the parent. Respect this, and allow it.

Have Realistic Expectations

  • Instant love and adjustment is not realistic.
  • It may take 4 to 7 years to go through the stages of stepfamily development.
  • Step relationships will never be the same as biological relationships.
  • It’s OK not to love your stepchildren.
  • Do not compare family success to a first marriage model.

Be Unified as a Couple

  • Put your marriage first.
  • View time alone together as a necessity.
  • Children benefit from the model of a happy relationship.
  • Do not disagree in front of the children – decide in private.

Form Satisfactory Step-Relationships

  • Stepparents who define their role with stepchildren as sort of an “aunt” or “uncle”
  •    type of relationship are usually the most satisfied.
  • It is the biological parents’ responsibility to take care of, and discipline, their children.
  • Loyalty conflicts are common, and step-relatives do not have to love each other.
  • At first, it is best to let the biological parent discipline.

Develop New Traditions and Rituals

  • Be creative developing traditions specific to the new family.
  • Children may need to hang on to some past traditions that were meaningful.
  • Work out innovative ways of dealing with transitions such as holidays or visits.

Get Support

  • Find a supportive church, or other faith based environment.
  • Find or organize a Stepfamily Support Group.
  • Obtain help from a professional, trained in stepfamily issues, as needed.

 


Jason

 
I am a 30-something father of four lovable heathens, avid gamer, technophile, science geek, caveman, and grill addict. Sometimes I have funny stuff to say so I write it down, and I'm lucky enough to make my living doing it.