Step-parenting, often referred to as being in a “blended” family, is not always an easy task and to do it successfully, there are certain things one has to be deliberate about. For many children, resisting change is a natural reaction and it’s important for a step-parent not to take this personally, but understand the frustration the child/children might be going through at the time of change and to show patience.
When a family is about to become blended, it’s important for the parents involved not to get carried away by their own joy and excitement, but to consider how this will affect the children, who might not be nearly as excited. Planning ahead is vital to give yourself the best possible chance of success as a blended family.
Here are four tips to laying a solid foundation before getting into marriage and creating a functional blended family:
Don’t expect to fall in love with your partner’s children instantly
It’s okay to not fall in love with your partner’s children overnight and it’s important that you don’t allow the guilt that might come with this to overwhelm you. Take time to get to know and understand your partner’s children,even if you don’t love them immediately. Remember: love can take time to develop.
Too many changes too quickly are unsettling for children
Statistics reveal that blended families have the highest success rate if couples wait two or more years before they get remarried (post-divorce). So as excited as you and your new partner may be, don’t rush into anything, even if only for the children’s sake. This will be beneficial for all parties involved in the long run.
Never compromise on respect
While you can’t force your partner’s children to like you or force yourself to like them, always insist on respect from both sides.
Manage your expectations
As mentioned in the first point, take time to get to know your partner’s children and learn to love them, but don’t expect that this will yield some sort of affection on the children’s end soon. It could take years before complete trust and a sense of love is developed, but one just has to keep working at it and not expect too much, but continue on with patience.
At the end of it all, it’s important to communicate openly with the children involved, give them the right kind of support, meet their need for security and allow them time to adjust to the huge change that’s about to happen in their lives. This will make for a successful blending of families. It is a journey that comes with many challenges, but just as many rewards.