Ways to make step-families work

extended family jump shot outdoors

When two partners with children from previous relationships decide to get married, there’s a blending process that takes place. The children need to adjust to one another as well as the idea of a new parent. Here are a few tips to make the process smoother for everyone. 

Make Sure Your Relationship is Solid First

For blended families, partners rarely have time to adjust as a couple. The main focus is on raising the children and ensuring their transition is a success. This forces couples to grow and mature during the parenting process.

With that in mind, it’s vital that your relationship with your partner is solid. You won’t have the time to maintain it like you normally would, and any time spent patching up the relationship not only takes away from the kids but can cause turmoil in their home as well. 

Stay Civil

One of the best things you can do is set an example for the children in your interactions with them as well as your partner. This can help teach them that acting civil is a better alternative than fighting, ignoring, or withdrawing from one another. 

This becomes difficult if legal proceedings from a divorce are still underway, particularly with child custody. Working with legal aid, like this Bloomington divorce attorney, can help ease the process. However, you still need to set the civil example for your children when dealing with your ex. 

Teach Respect and Compassion

Part of staying civil is learning to respect one another. This can be challenging for children as they fear what changes might take place with a new family. Once again, you’ll be setting the example for them to follow.

One of the easiest ways to do this to show compassion to each child in your blended family. That starts by attending to their varying needs, whether they’re educational or developmental. It also includes helping each individually with the transition into a new family model. 

That challenge changes by age, making it one of the more difficult aspects for parents. Remember to take blending one day at a time, keeping the main focus on how the children are adjusting and working to create a happy family dynamic. 

Give Some Space

While you’re helping your children adjust, remember that this process cannot be forced. Each child will have to come around to the idea of a new parent and siblings in their own time and their own way. If you think you’ve hit a brick wall, give them some space and come back to the topic later. 

Planning Tips

Creating a blended family is a long, often difficult process. While you can rely on legal representation for custody, like the Law Offices of Dorie Rodgers, partners are primarily on their own when it comes to helping the kids. Here are a few final tips to make the process easier for everyone:

  • Don’t make too many changes all at once.
  • It takes time for a relationship with your partner’s kids to develop.
  • Make plans for family bonding experiences.
  • Work on a parenting plan that both partners agree on.
  • Don’t accept ultimatums.
  • Reduce your expectations at the start.
  • Insist on respect when liking one another isn’t an option yet.