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Blended Families

How to make a blended family work

Blended families are wonderful opportunities for connection and love and there can be many bumps along the way.

Blended families occur when one or more partner in a newly formed partnership has children from a previous relationship.  Blended families can be very complicated because alongside navigating a new partnership and romance, the couple must navigate relationships with the child/children.  Sometimes this transition is fairly simple and effortless, while other times it can torturous for everyone involved.

What is most important is that you allow time and space for each member of the family to voice their needs and vision for the new family.  Don’t assume your partner or their children hold the same vision that you have for family relationships.  Don’t assume your partner’s child or children would like you as their parent.  It’s important to clarify roles, expectations and visions for all involved.

Family therapy is a great setting for this.  It can be helpful to have a therapist present for conversations about blending a family.

 

Tips for you how to be successful in blending your family

Blending a family is a wonderful opportunity for you as a couple to define your values and vision for your family and take strong leadership with your child/children. Here are a few tips for you how to successful in blending your family:

  • Blending families goes well when parents do not rush things for their children.
  • Take your time in your courtship both in moving in together and involving the children in your dating/time together.
  • Nourish your romantic relationship and clarify your needs within your relationship before involving children.
  • It’s going to be much more complicated when you involve children.
  • Very clearly define how your partner envisions their relationship with your children.
  • Educate your partner about your child’s  development, sensitivities and life experiences.
  • Help your partner to be successful in building a friendship with your child/children.
  • Allow your child space and time to warm up to your new partner.  Your child may not be interested in having a friendship with your new partner.

 

The support you need is how you succeed

Blending a family is sometimes a tricky task.  Children often end up as a primary source of conflict between a newly formed couple.  Protect your new relationship by teaching your children about collaboration and communication.   Move through this transition with intentionality, respect and gentleness. This can be easier said that done.  It’s important that you get the support you need, whether that is through counseling or extended family support or other resources you have available to you.

Even though you might be falling madly in love, try to keep your feet on the ground as much as possible so that you can be a balanced, steady presence to both your new partner and your child.  A child & family therapist can support your family in this important  transition so that your blended family will thrive for years to come.

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