One of the interesting things about blended families is that they all look different. You may have gotten remarried to someone with no kids of their own, so they’re getting used to raising a child for the first time. Or, maybe you found yourself with someone who already had children. Either way, there is bound to be conflict in almost any blended family relationship.
So, how can you navigate those relationships? How can you overcome some of the challenges that are likely to occur?
Committing to your relationship and moving in together is a big step. Getting married is an even bigger one. So, it’s crucial to talk to your partner about the future before those steps are taken. You’ll have to make sure you’re on the same page about how you’re going to live together, including raising the children in the household, handling finances, and where you’re going to live. Before you make a big commitment, consider asking your partner some of the following questions:
- How do they deal with conflict?
- What are they willing to sacrifice?
- What are their financial goals?
- Where do they see themselves in the future?
If you want to wipe the slate clean, you might consider buying a different house with your partner, so you can both raise your children there. Again, this is an area where discussion and compromise are key. Selling your current home might take some extra effort. Working with the right agent, pricing it to sell, and staging it can help. But, it’s important to feel supported and understood throughout the process. So, don’t be afraid to keep up a continuous conversation about what you want and need from your relationship and for the future.
In addition to communicating about the kids and the future, it’s a good idea to talk about prioritizing your relationship. It’s easy to become hyper-focused on handling family issues and making sure your children and step-children are handling things well. But, your intimate relationship should remain strong, so you can be a united front. Plan date nights with each other, and make sure to communicate your wants, needs, and concerns every day.
Keep a Consistent Comfort Level
Blending two families is a big change. When you have very young children, it can be difficult for them to fully understand and accept those changes right away.
One way to help them adapt is by keeping some things similar. Cherishing traditions you’ve had for years is a great way to make your kids feel comfortable and secure. It’s also a fantastic opportunity to introduce your new family to some of the things that are important to you. In turn, you can adopt some of their traditions, too. Together, you’ll be able to create new ones that everyone starts looking forward to.
If you’re still facing conflict with your kids, listen to them. They need to know that their feelings are valid and that they’re being heard. Don’t pretend that things haven’t changed, but try to encourage them to see those changes as positive things. Establishing a united front with your partner will help, so you can both be attentive and caring toward your biological and non-biological children alike.
Challenges are practically inevitable in a blended family. But, they don’t have to last forever or cause constant tension. Keep these ideas in mind to navigate some of the more contentious areas of conflict. In doing so, your family will have an easier time adapting to each other and your new life.
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Sam Bowman writes about families, wellness, and how the two merge. He enjoys getting to utilize the Internet for community without actually having to leave his house. In his spare time he likes running, reading, and combining the two in a run to his local bookstore.
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