According to Parents magazine, 75 percent of the 1.2 million Americans who divorce each year eventually remarry. While this is encouraging for those looking for a “happily ever after”, it also speaks to the growing number of blended families in today’s society. Unfortunately, this new family life can be rife with conflict and stress that is taxing on both a personal level and on a new marriage.
Since every situation is different, there is no magic solution. There are, however, suggestions for laying the foundations for a successful blended family.
- Give your kids time to adjust to changes. Recognize that the uncertainty and unfamiliarity of this new situation can be scary to them. Don’t pile all the changes on at once. You may want to consider waiting a year or two years before getting married.
- Don’t expect to step into the role of loving mother/father immediately. Just because you fell in love with a parent, doesn’t mean that you will immediately love their children. It can take time to develop those types of feelings and that is okay. Build a relationship just as you would a friendship. Discover their interests and find mutually enjoyable things you can do together.
- Try to establish an accurate perception about what life will be like. Having all your initial blended family outings at places like Disney World and fun-filled entertainment venues does not paint a true picture of what everyday life will be like and may ultimately lead to disappointment.
- Make sure you and your new spouse discuss child-rearing and discipline expectations early rather than showing discord in front of the kids. Be sure you, as parents, provide a united front with your children to ensure consistency. You may want to draft a list of household rules to ensure everyone is on the same page.
- Initially defer to the biological parent. While you are building a relationship with your stepchildren, you may want to take on the role of good cop to their bad cop when it comes to delivering consequences for behavior. Remain present in these situations and support your spouse’s decision, but let them be the heavy.
- Let the biological parent spend one-on-one time with their child. This reduces feelings of displacement they may feel with you now permanently in their life.
Hollywood scriptwriters may be able to create heartwarming and hilarious stories of instant families, but the reality is quite different. Managing blended families is a difficult proposition that requires patience and hard work. Working together to lay the groundwork for your new family can help ease some of those difficulties.
Board Certified Marital and Family Law Attorney Charles D. Jamieson understands that divorce is an extremely sensitive and important issue. Thanks to extensive experience and a focus on open communication, Attorney Jamieson adeptly addresses the complex issues surrounding divorce while delivering excellent personal service. To discuss your divorce, please contact The Law Firm of Charles D. Jamieson, P.A. online or call 561-478-0312.