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Blending Families - 3 Tips To Build A Strong Blended Family

A blended family is created when a parent with one or more children marries. The second parent may or may not have children of their own. With four adults and one or more children involved, there are bound to be some problems. You can limit the problems by understanding emotions of a blended family.

Yours and Mine
Do not expect instant bonding. Each parent has a stronger bond with their own child than their spouse. This is normal and how you deal with it can make a difference in how fast your blended family becomes a strong, happy family. Make it clear from the first day that the parents will set the rules. The kids will not rule the family. The rules will be the same for children of both parents.

Before getting married, you and your spouse need to agree that you will not contradict each other in front of any of the children. If you have to adjust any rules, agree to do it in private. Children will jump at a chance to put a wedge between the parents. When you show a united front, they don't have a chance to use a wedge.

Try to get all adults involved on the same page when it comes to discipline and liberties. If an ex-spouse does not agree to your parenting style, do not fight about it - especially in front of the kids. Simply enforce your rules and make sure the children understand what you expect. Be consistent.

What if you have one of those spouses who criticizes you in front of the kids and goes out of their way to have different rules? Calmly stick to your rules and let the children know that these are your rules and they will respect them. Tell your kids that you support the other spouse's authority while they are with the other spouse, but your rules are to be respected at home.

By supporting your ex's rules and maintaining your rules, your kids will soon realize that they are more comfortable in a calm, structured environment rather than a hectic, antagonistic environment. They may test your rules, but they will be happier when they realize that they can depend on consistent rules.

Don't expect your child to immediately like your new spouse. Your child may feel like your new spouse is horning in on your family. Give it time - but demand respect.

Sibling Relationships
Don't expect your children to become best friends with your new spouse's children. You need to insist that they treat each other with respect, but don't expect them to be immediate best friends. As they learn to respect each other, you will see a bond form. Give it time.

You should expect to see some squabbles. Keep in mind that most kids whose parents have divorced have watched their parents fight. The conflict resolution techniques they learned were probably not the best techniques. Again, continue to insist that they treat each other with respect.

Non Resident Parents
Children usually adjust better to a step parent when the parent who has moved out maintains a relationship with them. Children need a relationship with both their parents and will settle in to a new family much faster when they see that their relationship with the parent who has moved out is not threatened.

Encourage a strong relationship with the spouse who has moved out to ensure children do not feel abandoned. A common mistake is to limit relationships by convincing yourself that your ex is no good for the children. This hurts children more than spending time with a parent who is less than perfect.

Very young children adjust to a blended family fairly easy as they thrive on getting along. But keep in mind that they may feel abandoned if the new step parent is getting more attention than they are.

Teenagers are starting to build a life outside the family unit and usually adjust fairly well, but most are uncomfortable with displays of romantic affection.

Children ages 10 - 14 usually have the most difficult time adjusting to a blended family. The new step parent should try bonding with the child before asserting authority.

Blending families takes work. But, if you know what to expect, and commit to making it work, you can form a strong blended family.

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