Anyone remember the Brady Bunch? Even today, the iconic 1970s sitcom epitomizes blended families. A widowed architect with three sons marries a woman with three daughters, and adventure ensues. In one episode, Mrs. Brady tells one of the boys that the only “steps” in the home lead to the second floor. In other words, everyone is a son or daughter, not stepson or stepdaughter.
This is one instance where life should imitate art. Blended families are becoming more common and can be as close and loving as their traditional counterparts, but there may be an adjustment period in the beginning and as your life grows and changes.
Below is a list of 5 tips that can make the transition smoother for everyone.
1. Get on the same page as your spouse
Parental unity is always important, but it is especially crucial with blended families. You and your spouse may have different ideas and expectations regarding homework, chores, bedtimes, and discipline, but consistency is key.
Sit down with your spouse and agree on a set of rules that both of you will support. When they are applied consistently, the children will soon accept them as the new norm.
2. Work out disagreements privately
It is easy for a disagreement between parents to divide a blended-family household. Your kids may be inclined to side with you while your spouse’s children may naturally support their parent. Settle all disputes out of their earshot. Should that be impossible for some reason, keep the discussion calm and respectful until you can sort out the issues in private. Most children learn by seeing and mutual respect is a learned asset, setting them and you up, for future success.
3. Cultivate a close relationship with your stepchild(ren)
Develop a relationship with your stepchildren directly, instead of only through their parent. Take them to the movies or the park, help them with their homework, teach them to cook and bake and in general, do everything that you do with your own kids. They are not only your spouse’s children anymore: they are a pivotal part of your life as well.
4. Create family traditions
Nothing brings families closer than a beloved tradition. Celebrate the December holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries as a family unit. Look for that Christmas tree together at the Christmas Tree farm or get your stepchildren to help you shop for their parent’s birthday gift at the Mall. You’re a family now: separate celebrations should only be with their other parent.
5. Love one another unconditionally
Although blended families can be complex at times, unconditional love will keep everyone together no matter what. Being bound by love is just as important as being bound by blood – if not more. You are not replacing your step child’s other parent; instead, you are adding yourself to a unified support system of adults who love them and care about their happiness.
At Bliss Law Group, we believe that the recipe for a happy blended family includes a dash of patience, a sprinkle of grace, and a huge helping of love. When you put the children’s needs before your own, a balanced and loving family unit can result. If there is anything we can do to help, we’re a phone call away at 253-844-4412.