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6 Tips For Successfully Blending Families

29 Comments
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My husband and I have a blended family. Between the two of us we share six children, and four live with us full time. They range in age from 10-18 years. If anyone says there aren’t huge transitional adjustments involved in such an undertaking, I would say they are lying and full of shit.

It’s one thing to be a blended family, and it is quite another to be successful at it. Trust me.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

1. Don’t be a disciplinarian to your step kids. You are not a dictator in the new regime, so to speak.  It is a tricky business because step kids aren’t going to automatically place you in the role of mom or dad. If you come in all hot and heavy by reprimanding them for using up all their data on their phone or flunking a civics exam, well chances are there is gonna be some resentment brewing.

2. Don’t try to be a replacement parent. Chances are they already have one and more than likely don’t need another. A support? Yes. A Friend? Yes. Someone they can count on and trust? Absolutely.

3. I can’t stress the importance enough of FAMILY MEAL. For us, it was one of the reasons my step daughter chose to move in with us full time. She loved that opportunity to be together. There is something powerful that occurs at a table when family gathers around it to share a meal. Some of our best conversations have gone on at our table. It is more about getting together than the actual food eaten. It builds a spirit of love, safety and trust. It is something they can count on. It is a great way to reconnect after busy days, and ever so needed for a blended family to stay on track. I’m not going to lie, it can also be a tense atmosphere depending on what has been going on relationally in the home. The positive in it, however, is we all showed up.

4. I love the concept of ONE ON ONE DATES, if you are able. Both with your own kids AND your step kids. It gives them a feeling of worth and value. They don’t have to be huge expensive events. The library, a manicure or stopping for ice cream are great ways to incorporate some quality time with each kid.

5. DON’T TALK SMACK to your step kid’s about their bio mom or dad. It is just plain rude, and only looks bad on you. It is also something I believe kids don’t forget.  (I know I didn’t!)

6. WITHHOLD FAVORITISM. No matter how hard you want your step kids to like you!

7. BE PATIENT. Blending a family successfully doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, years even. We are all adjusting and it will continue to evolve and be rocky and be lovely and be scary and be uncomfortable, but hopefully (my fingers are crossed here) your kids will look back and find that it was all worth it.

Related post: The Top Five Things No Step-Parent Wants to Hear

Comments

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  1. 4

    says

    It is the hardest thing we have ever done!! mistakes have definitely been made along the way!! We had 3 children between us when we met and now we have 2 of our own aswell .. 4 of the children are still living with us and 10 years on it is still not perfect between my daughter and her step dad!! it always seems as if everyone else has an opinion and often they don’t even have previous knowledge of how difficult the transition is!! I think the worst mistake we made was not strengthening the bond between my daughter and my new partner!! I recommend to anyone who is blending a family to pay enormous attention to this area of the relationship..things are alot brighter now but we still have stumbling blocks now and again.. But then again so does a ‘normal’ family!! what is normal anyway!! x

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  2. 11

    says

    I disagree. I’m not here to be a best friend, I’m here to be a parent, a guide. I don’t treat the kids different, I don’t play favorites. We have rules here that some of the kids don’t have with the other parent. It’s hard trying to blend everything.

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  3. 12

    says

    I’m sorry, but I completely disagree with #1. Don’t be a disciplinarian? Sorry but if any child is doing something I would get on to another child for, I’m disciplining. If you don’t, how is that any different than playing favorites?

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  4. 16

    Diana Bond says

    It is incredibly hard to blend a family. After 2 years of marriage I have moments I feel like we are a “real” family and it feels great. Gets me through the rough patches.

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  5. 17

    says

    #2 I agree is a must. I ex husband had my son call each of his new gfs mom. And his new wife he forced it. I have never forced my husband to be called dad to my son. Then again I’m not dealing with a rational person when I’m dealing with my ex husband.

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  6. 19

    says

    Blending is very difficult, my ex husband and I don’t see eye to eye but our children shouldn’t suffer for it, I don’t speak ill of his new gf because things can change I also don’t think the bio parents should be talking badly of step parents, my stepson who is five has been extremely rude to me and even said my mom told me I don’t have to like u or listen to u. I told him that’s fine but this is my house my rules if u want to play with my kids u have to fallow the same rules, let’s just say his mommy dearest keeps putting her nose were it doesn’t belong and she’s not going to like me. I don’t respect a mother who uses her child to cause problems at the other parents house!!

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  7. 20

    says

    I think this I good but I do disagree with #1 & #2. I don’t have any step kids, but my oldest daughter has a stepmom, and a stepdad(my husband). Bothe her stepmom and my husband have been in her life since she was 2. They are just as much a parent to her as her bio dad and I. I fully expect her to treat her stepmom and my husband no different than her dad and I, and I expect her stepmom and stepdad to parent her no different than her dad and I. I want to know that if anything were to happen to me that she has another “mom” to lean on, and be guided by.

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  8. 21

    says

    I love this, my boyfriend and I have been together and cohabitating going on 5 years. He has a 6 year old daughter and we now have one on the way. It took a long time for us to decide exactly how to make it all work. Somewhere along the line she sat down and asked us what I was to her along with different members of my family, ie, my mom, my sister. It was at this time that we did the most rational thing we could think of, ask her what she wanted us to be. She made the decision my family is now Grammy, aunt, great grandma; and I became her step mom. While I don’t agree with number 1 and have found that when I don’t discipline her andd wait for her father to get home she sees it as a reason to disrespect or ignore my rules, I think the others are great words of wisdom and the idea of one on one dates is something we will have to remember as the new baby comes. I know we are not a traditional blended family and some may say we are not one at all because we aren’t married, but we go by what the heart feels and I appreciate seeing articles like this!

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  9. 22

    says

    I think husband and wife need to both be on the same page with regard to household discipline. We have house rules, and they are enforced, regardless of who it is–step kids, bio kids, visiting kids, etc. These are the rules, these are the consequences. Nobody has to be the bad guy when you’ve got a clear list of expectations and everybody works together to maintain order. We had a ‘family meeting’ with the kids when we all first moved in together, and they were a huge part of making the rules and consequences list. It gave them a sense of control, and a sense of responsibility, and let my husband and I sort of off the hook by not setting up a good cop/bad cop kind of relationship with the kids, doing it that way.

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