Becoming a blended family can be challenging for so many families. It is not always easy for parents and children to cohesively step into their new roles. With the daily stresses of life, the commitment it takes to effectively raise children from previous relationships, combined with the financial burdens that plague so many families, it is no wonder becoming a blended family takes practice. Often times, the roof seems to cave in before the foundation has even been built. This leaves many families feeling overwhelmed, unsure of their new roles, and frustrated with the outcome of their life as bonus parents and children. Even after years of attempting to make it work, many families do not achieve the blended family success that they had hoped for.
The truth is that becoming a newly cohesive unit takes time and practice. While many times, parents’ initial efforts to effectively blend their families may not work out as they planned, there are so many valuable lessons to be learned along the way. I wonder what it must feel like to be a young child, receiving love from so many caring and loving adults. Couldn’t we consider any child to be lucky for having multiple people spread love to him/her? How can every parent spread love to a child, while still making one another feel significant? How do we help ease the tension amongst adults who are trying to coparent? How do parents determine the rules and boundaries of their new family dynamic?
Through my personal and professional experience, I have learned that there is enough love to spread to all of our children, so long as our intentions are in the right place. For parents who feel lost, know that there is hope and success for any family who wants to thrive in their newly blended roles. While the key to each family’s success may not be the same, trial and error are usually our greatest allies. Providing an abundance of care and nurturance to our children can be done in a positive and productive way. There is room for everyone to give and receive love from our precious children. Remembering to keep the lines of communication open at all times is crucial in the development of this new unit.
Here are a few tips to help families find peace in their new roles:
1- Seek Professional Help First
Becoming a blended family takes practice and dedication from everyone. Parents are in charge of setting healthy standards; this is to ensure everyone thrives in their new family structure. If parents do not have the language to help their children effectively transition into their new roles, assist them by seeking professional help. A licensed Parent Coach or a Family Therapist/Counselor may be able to provide everyone with the appropriate language needed to move into their new roles.
2- Do Not Force The Relationship
In blended families, it is important for everyone to take time to get to know one another. Allowing children to be themselves is crucial in helping them adapt to their new role as a bonus child. Creating extreme rules and boundaries from the beginning can be damaging to the budding relationship. Change can be a struggle for children, so remember to give them time to grow and adjust to this wonderful, new life.
3- Connect To Your Inner-Child
Do not underestimate the power of connecting to your bonus children through playful behavior. While some children may resist your attempts at connecting with them in this manner, do not give up. It is important to gather evidence about the child’s likes and dislikes before you engage in this technique.
3- Take Time For Yourself
Becoming a blended family can be difficult for adults, too. Therefore, gently reminding yourself that you are new at this will help you along the way. It is important to make the time to be happy. Do not forget to do some of the things that kept you feeling alive and energetic, prior to your new role. This may carry you further than you could imagine.
4- Be Honest With Your Spouse
Letting your partner know your joys, fears and frustrations in your new role can be extremely helpful. Do not assume that your partner can read your mind. Also, do not assume that your partner is having an easy time transitioning, either. Be sure to check in with one another frequently. Leaning on each other for support is crucial in the success of your new family.
5- Do Not Take it Personal
Expecting immediate, positive results can be damaging to a parent’s self-esteem. Everyone needs time to adjust, so do not fret if your bonus children need extra time to warm up to you. Remember to be patient with yourself during this process. Be sure appreciate yourself for the wonderful attempts you are making at creating a successful family dynamic.
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