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Monday, November 20, 2017

BLENDED FAMILIES

Blended Families

More commonly than ever before, we see families that consist of stepparents and stepchildren, half brothers and half sisters. It is said that about one-third of children within the U.S. will be part of a stepfamily before their eighteenth birthday. This new unit may be looked upon by the two adults with great excitement and joy while the children may feel uncertain about the new developing family. Children may resist at first and have the need to go through the growing pains of the new developing family. At this time children are also faced with the reality that their parents will never get back together. Although the child may resist at first this does not mean that you and your new family will not have a healthy and happy life together.

What can I do as a parent in a Blended Family?

A few things that are really important to remember while expanding your family are to be realistic and patient. This is a large adjustment for everyone, especially the kids. They need to know what role you are going to play and what will having stepsiblings in the house be like? Will their biological parent be upset if they develop a connection with you? It is really tough for a child to process all of this and it is important to know and understand that this will take time. Make sure that your expectations are not too high on what you should receive from your new stepchildren. It is normal and completely acceptable for you to nurture them and not receive much back in the beginning. Children want to know your investment in them and whether it’s real or not.

Things to keep in mind for the needs of the children:

  • Safety
    Children want to be sure that they can depend on their parents. If your children have already been through a divorce than they may be weary to trust that you will be a secure and safe person to depend on.
  • Loved
    When it comes down to it, children just want to be loved - even the most rebellious ones! Be patient and give love gradually. They will be more open to receiving it in small doses at the beginning.
  • Valued
    After a divorce or a remarriage, children feel overlooked or unseen. Let the children know that their input is valued and that you want to hear about their process.
  • Heard and emotionally connected to
    Let the children speak about how they feel about the new family. Be open and understanding even if their perspective is negative at the beginning. It is their perspective and they may feel more valued if you allow them to speak how they feel and not get upset over it.
  • Encouragement
    Always show how much you appreciate your child or step child. You may help them feel more positively about you and the family if you are encouraging and positive about their place in the family.
  • Boundaries
    No kids want them, but all kids need them. It is part of life for kids to rebel or disagree with the boundaries being set, but this will help them feel secure and safe and will also send the message that they are worthy of your time and attention.

Your spouse or your kids?

Another problem that blended families face is to maintain a healthy marriage. Within the first few months of marriage parents can be consumed with their children and how they are adjusting. It is important not to put 100% of your focus on your kids. Many parents struggle with guilty feelings of giving their new spouse too much attention. It is important to know at this point that your children will learn from what they see you doing. Remember that if you exhibit love, respect and open communication with your spouse than your children will gain from this experience. Keep their needs in mind, but do not let your marriage suffer. Continue to try to strengthen and empower healthy and happy relationships… your children will thank you later.

My parenting style is different from my new spouse…

For those parents who are very different in parenting styles and did not communicate this before your union, you may have a lot of tough work ahead you. Many children feel that this new parental figure comes into their life and "tries" to become their mother or father. Respect the fact that their lives are changing and make sure you and your spouse talk privately about what rules should change and what you can compromise on. Try not to let your children see you disagree about these matters as they may see this and try to rebel against the new parents rules. It is important for both parents to present a strong union as the kids have not developed their trust in this new family. Make a family discussion out of these new rules and let the children voice their feelings without being shut down. This does not mean you need to change your rules but value the struggle that the child may be feeling. Your marriage and family will benefit with the more open and honest communication.

CONTACT US

Bridging Harts Institute & Psychotherapy
203 S. Alma St. Suite #300
Allen, TX 75013
T: (972) 562 5002
Email: info@bridgingharts.com

   

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