Blended families can include complex dynamics that would make any new family full of stress and chaos. The great thing is that while blended families take work, they can be successful and enjoyable if all parties involved develop a family environment that is inclusive and considerate of every family member. The goal is to allow for time and understanding to be at the forefront of the blending process. No family is perfect, but if all have a propensity for peace and forgiveness, then blended families can appear no different than other families. Here are some tips to help you navigate your blended family dynamic and cultivate an environment suitable for success:
1. Eliminate the disciplinarian dynamic to your step kids. Be mindful that to your step kids, you are an outsider. While you should not let them run all over you, you have to understand that they have a parent. Consider coming up with a plan that the entire family abides by to eliminate the strain having to discipline your step child may cause. While poor behavior requires discipline, consult the biological parent first. Be sure to remain a team when the punishment is rendered. This will increase respect for the step parent and reduce resentment.
2. You cannot try to replace the other parent. Even if the parent is absent, it is not your job. Do your best to remain in a supportive role and someone they can trust to love them and always have their best interest at heart. It also eliminates issues with the biological parent if they are involved.
3. The spirit of family love should be shared often over a meal. Do your best to incorporate eating together as a family. It has been proven that families who eat together often experience a greater level of happiness, love, support, and communication. This can be awesome for blended families to incorporate as it will provide an opportunity for family members to get to know each and develop a genuine concern for listening to each other talk about what is going on in their lives.
4. One on one dates can also be implemented to allow for the step parents to get to know their step children better. This is even a great concept in families who have more than one child in the family. Allow for the child to pick the place and be open to being alone with your step child and hearing and learning about who they are as a person. Be consistent. Once you began this, stick with it. The child will appreciate your commitment to getting to know them.
5. Be patient and avoid playing favorites. While you may not be the biological parent, you agreed to marry your spouse with the intent of loving their offspring. Blending a family takes time and will require you to practice patience as you get into developing the rhythm of your own family dynamic. Avoid playing favorites. Do your best to cultivate an environment where everyone feels important, valued, and loved for the unique individual they are.