Twelve years ago, something very wonderful and special happened in my life. I got remarried, gained a new daughter and my son gained a second dad. Together we began a new journey of what many today are familiar with, blended families. More and more families are now experiencing this new transition. I will not paint you a picturesque rosy colored picture of how things will turn out. In fact, more than 60% of blended families end up in divorce. The challenges of blended families are there and they cannot be ignored. You have to work through these challenges day in and day out.
If there is one thing I have learned the most through my blended family, is when you are trying to blend a family you need to let go of any type of guilt associated with the divorce. Surprisingly, despite what you’ve heard, divorce isn’t the worst thing that can happen to a family. In fact, it can actually be a good thing if both parents work together for the sake of the children involved. That might involve a little bit of letting go.
You Can’t Force Love
The thing to remember when step-parents are brought into the picture is that just because you love them doesn’t mean your children will. But, if courtesy is shown and respect is given time to become mutual; you can carve out a good situation.
Find a Way to Work with the Other Parents
One of the best things you can do to keep things organized is to set up a family Google Calendar. This can be shared across all platforms, computers, and phone types. Older children can get involved too by putting their date nights, work times and more into the calendar as well. This can help keep everyone on the same page, and even assign different people to different tasks.
His House Her House and the Rules
One of the largest issues in blended families happens to be a huge control issue. It doesn’t seem natural to have no control over what your kids eat, drink, and do at the other parent’s house. But the reality is that each parent has a right to parent in their own way. While this might be confusing a bit for young kids, they do adjust and learn to know what they can and can’t do at each home. Don’t criticize the other parent to the child, and just stick to your own rules. It’ll be fine.
No One Is Perfect
There is no parent, or child who is perfect. Not even the young new step mom. Don’t allow yourself to think your way is best, or that somehow they’re better than you. You all have something to contribute to the family dynamics and the children. It’s great to be different and be tolerant of those differences even though it can be initially hard to adjust to.
The Ex is Part of Your Extended Family
Whether you like it or not, unless the father is not involved in the children’s lives, the ex is going to be part of your extended family forever. With any luck you’ll attend graduations, weddings, and be grandparents together. Let go of any anger, or hurt, and move forward. If you think about it that’s why divorce exists so that you can let go of the hurt and anger and move on.
You Can Redefine Family
There is no hard and fast rule about what a family consists of today. You can build your family how you see fit. Some blended families blend completely others just blend around the edges. It’s okay to do it how you and your ex feels is best for your situation. As long as the main goal is to put the children first and center, that’s all that really matters. You don’t need other people’s permission.
Finally, one of the most important things you can do being part of a blended family is to develop a sense of humor. Sometimes you’re going to have disagreements, as all families do. Sometimes you’re going to, if you allow it to happen, have wonderful fun times and build fabulous memories. It really is in your hands.