Step Family Survival

Blending two families can be challenging, but is also a rewarding way to create a unique home environment. When you finally make the step of getting married and moving in together, you may find that the challenges are difficult to work through without a lot of commitment and a little help from your spouse. These tips will help you keep you sanity during the initial phase of getting to know each other and beyond.

Be Patient

Getting accustomed to living in a blended family takes some time. If you are expecting the children to love one another instantly and for things to fall into place effortlessly, you are sure to be disappointed. Your children, and your spouse’s children, need time to adjust. Try to deal with any conflicts as objectively as possible during this time. Give kids room to work on their problems without interfering unless necessary if you want to ensure there aren’t any unnecessary sides being taken at this point.

By proving that you won’t favor either your own or your spouses children when there is a conflict, you will be able to begin seeing the family as a whole rather than a his and hers type of family. Bringing together two groups of children isn’t easy, but it isn’t impossible, either. Make sure you have taken the time to really work on getting to know the children and their needs, and you will find that it is much simpler to fulfill the new needs of your expanded family.

Stand Together

A blended family is a new challenge, especially when it comes to disciplining children. You and your new spouse should be willing to compromise when it comes to punishments and permissions. If you do have a problem with the way that your spouse is dealing with the kids, make sure you talk about it in private. Your children and step-children need to see you and your spouse as a team, not as enemies.

You will also want to spend time with each child on an individual basis. Getting your family to work together as a unit is a challenge, but one that also creates long-lasting bonds that provide you and your children with an extended network of support, both now and in the future. Remember to be affectionate, attentive, and unbiased when dealing with your blended family no matter how difficult it is right now, and you will have the reward of a family unit that stands together despite obstacles.

Communication

Surviving in a step-family means that you need to communicate each step of the way. When you and your spouse first join families, you may find that you don’t know how to deal with situations that are out of your control. Even small things, such as kids leaving the lid off the toothpaste or breaking a trinket will be blown out of proportion unless you are willing to talk about what you expect from your family. Everyone is human, however, so things won’t be perfect within a family, especially if you aren’t accustomed to the way that the new part of the family gets things done.

If you have heard the phrase “Don’t sweat the small stuff”, now is a great time to follow this sound advice. You may not really approve of some of the ways that your step-family operates, but as long as they aren’t hurting other members of the family it is often wiser to choose your battles, and let the small things go. It is more important to work on behaviors that can harm another persons self-esteem or hurt their feelings emotionally than it is to enforce rules about day to day living.

Becoming a Family

When you are living with a step-family, you will need to adjust your expectations, especially if you have more than one or two children. Living with a large family is chaotic occasionally, so don’t expect things to run smoothly all of the time. Let your children and your step-children have fun together, do chores as a team, and spend time getting to know one another on their own terms.