Bonding with Your New Blended Family
Most people tend to get used to their first family to such an extent that when divorce happens- they try to recreate a new blended family similar to their previous nuclear family. This approach to the new blended family setup can often lead to complications, as a blended family is very different from a nuclear family with mom and dad in the same home. Here are a few strong characteristics of a blended or stepfamily:
Parenting from day one
Remarriages that result in formation of a blended family are different from a first time marriages. In a first marriage, the couple has ample time to plan the parenting of their children, even before they are born. However, in a remarriage with kids, parenting comes as part of the package.
Polite and civil behavior
If you insist and are able to instill these values in your blended family, this create an environment that requires everyone to be polite and civil to each other. With these expectations, you can be quite sure of minimizing the negative attitudes like ignoring, purposely trying to hurt, or completely withdrawing from each other.
It’s not only required of the kids to respect their elders, but respecting relationships in a family has a broader meaning. It’s not a question of ages. Rather it is being part of the family that entitles you to being respected.
Being compassionate for each other
In a blended family, the members may be of different age groups having different needs and each may be at a different level of embracing the idea of the new family setup. Therefore, every member of the family must understand these differences and be compassionate in helping a struggling member of the family.
Growth for all
Given the time and the right nurturing, a blended family can grow strong and connected. A new stepparent can learn the needs of his or her new stepchildren. Some of the basic needs of children are:
- Feel safe and secure. It’s not easy for children who have been through divorce to give a second chance to their stepparents, however, it’s your job to give them that feeling of safety and security which would lead them to a renewed trusted relationship.
- Be loved. Every kid wants to be loved. It may take a little time, but then only love is the basis of a great family relationship.
- Be seen and valued. Children often feel unimportant or invisible when they do not have a say in decisions regarding the new blended family. Involving them in family decisions, at least to the extent of their role in the family and the expected results of the decision, could make them feel seen and valued.
- Be appreciated and encouraged. Appreciation and encouragement works for everyone. Imagine the disappointment you may have felt when you were deprived of the appreciation and encouragement you really deserved. In case of children, it happens to be a very basis of their psychological development.
- Limits and boundaries. Every family has to set certain limits and boundaries for the children, but if these are set by a new stepparent the children might think of these as imposed. It would be much better to carefully chalk out these boundaries with the help of your spouse and make the kids realize that these have been jointly approved by both the parents and are in the best interest of the children.
Since every child is different, each one needs to be treated accordingly. Some children are more open and would be quick to respond to the new changes, hopefully in a positive way. While others may need more time, attention and effort. However, if you were willing to give them enough time, patience and interest, most children would be willing to accept you in their lives as a new stepparent.
Richard Jacobs is a chief editor since early 2007, and he currently works for
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