Five Principles of Blended Families

Blended families are difficult for both the parents and children involved.  Suddenly, the dynamics change and you have to adjust your lifestyle. 

I have a daughter from a previous relationship as well as a daughter with my husband.  The adjustment isn’t always smooth and working out the kinks can be a hassle.  But if you follow these five simple principles, you’ll be sure to have a much smoother adjustment to your new life.

1. Establish Rules:  Sit down with your partner and discuss your standards and expectations.  Does your partner have children from a previous relationship?  Is your partner allowed to discipline your biological children?  Do you share children together?  What time is bedtime for the children?  What are your expectations for your children?  

These are all important questions to ask.  Do not wait until you are in the presence of your children to make these decisions.  Never devalue your partner’s position. This may influence your children to do the same.  Make important decisions behind closed doors so that you all are a united front.  Be sure not to make too many changes too soon as it may unsettle the children.

2. Reanalyze Your Household Budget:  Discuss your finances.  I can not stress this enough.  When my husband and I first got married, we didn’t have a joint account for expenses and it showed.  We just kept on spending like we were single.  Our financial disposition reflected negatively in our relationship.  There was a lack of trust and the mentality of “what’s mine is mine.” 

I can proudly say now that it wasn’t the smartest or budget friendly route.  I’m not saying you have to put all your cash in one joint account but at least for your monthly expenses like groceries, mortgage, electric, cable, etc.  Trust me, it makes a difference.  And with the expansion of your family, it makes it easier to track your overall household expenses.  This also helps you get a feel for what your monthly expenses will look like so you can plan and budget for the future.

3.  Be Patient:  Understand that this process isn’t easy and your children didn’t ask for a new parent.  Have open communication with your partner as well as your children.  It is imperative that you not only listen but look at things from their perspective.  Don’t assume you know how they feel.  

4.  Build a Bond:  Now that you have established rules and have a greater understanding of your family dynamics, it’s time to build a lifetime bond.  Plan a family night, go to the movies, play some games, or go to the beach.  You won’t bond overnight and developing your relationship will take time.  Understand that you have to be sincere but also insist on respect.  You should develop a parental bond first, then a friendly bond after.  The children have to develop respect for your partner before they can develop their relationship.

5.  Be Appreciative:  Always let your family know that you appreciate them.  Praise and encourage your children and make sure your partner does the same.  Children respond well to positive affirmations and this will further develop the bond between the family.

Blended families, like any uncharterred territory, can be difficult at first.  But as you maneuver and understand your family dynamics, you’ll be sure to have a greater journey along the way. 

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