Blended families, or homes that contain members of various different families, are one of the fastest growing types of households in 2019 according to the Office Of National Statistics.
These growing numbers of untraditional families mean that parents need to learn how to give their children the stable upbringing that they deserve.
With this in mind, here are some tips on how you can make the process of becoming a blended family as smooth as possible for you, your former partner, any new family members and, most importantly of all, your kids.
Make everything official
It’s hard to start afresh with something serious such as marriage, custody agreement or housing arrangements still unresolved, so make sure that you get everything formally sorted out before you move on properly. Some issues, such as your official divorce, if you and your former partner were legally married, custody arrangements and other issues will require the use of a family or divorce lawyer. If you have a look online for the right solicitor you can find someone to help you finalise all arrangements and allow you and your former partner to move on with your lives in a civilised manner.
Be honest with your children
During a difficult process such as leaving your former partner and moving on with a new one, it can be hard for parents to discuss everything that’s going on openly with their children, particularly if they’re young. Whilst you won’t be able to explain everything in detail to your kids, you should make sure that they’re aware of what’s going on and don’t lie to them, as your children will be able to see that something is wrong and become unsettled.
Avoid bribing your kids
After separating from your partner, it can be easy for parents to want to fix things by bribing their children with presents, but this can create a negative outlook for kids, and also build resentment from other members of your family. Therefore, it’s important that you try to avoid buying your children expensive gifts and giving them everything they want. Consult your former partner before making any major purchases and make it clear that both parents are contributing financially, so that your children understand that they are equally loved and that both parents are involved and invested in their upbringing and happiness.
Create a safe and nurturing atmosphere
Your children need to feel safe in their home, so during your separation you should keep any fighting out of the house and away from your kids. Try to only bring positive energy into your home, and if you’re not able to say something pleasant about your former partner, then simply stop speaking about them, or only refer to them in relation to their role as your children’s parent.
Try to stay on good terms with your former partner
Whilst your ex might no longer be your partner, they’re still a parent to your children, so it’s important that you try to stay on good terms with them if you can. Avoid bickering with them and being petty, and instead try to be supportive. Stick to any arrangements that you have regarding your childcare, so you both avoid conflict and are able to co-parent effectively.
Welcome new members of your family and be supportive
Eventually, your former partner will move on and find someone else, and when they do it’s important that you try your best to be supportive and welcoming. Remember that it’s never easy meeting a new partner’s children and former partner, so be kind to them and try to be as understanding as possible. If they have children too, work with them to combine your families and ensure that everyone feels comfortable and happy.
Support your children when you’re introducing them to your new partner
Once you find a new partner, you need to introduce them to your children and welcome them into your family. Be supportive when introducing a new partner to your kids, and communicate you’re your children throughout the process so that they know that they are still loved and cherished. This will help them to adjust to the new situation as quickly as possible, so that you can all move on with your lives together.
Take things slowly
Pushing too many major changes on your children at once will unsettle and upset them, so try to take things slowly with your new partner. Do not ask them to move in too quickly, and make sure that they’re definitely the person that you’re interested in so that your children don’t have to keep meeting new partners on a regular basis. Try to integrate new changes into your kid’s lives slowly so that they aren’t overwhelmed and have enough time to adjust before you make further amendments to their lives.
Be civil with everyone
Redefining your version of a family can be tough, but it’s important that you’re courteous and considerate with everyone so that no one struggles too much. Be kind to everyone in your new family and try your best to help them adjust to these changing circumstances. Never badmouth anyone in your family around other members, particularly the children, as this could affect their perception of others and make the situation more complicated and less enjoyable for everyone. You might not be able to like everyone instantly, but you can insist that you all respect each other, for the sake of your children and your own wellbeing.
Limit your expectations
Once you’ve found a new partner and moved on, it’s easy to think that everything will be perfect from now on, but with families this is very rarely the case. Be prepared for arguments, hassle and tantrums (from children and adults). Try your best to view these challenges as opportunities to learn and grow as a family, rather than serious issues that cannot be resolved.
Make time to give every member of the family individual attention and support
When you’ve got a big blended family, it’s easy to neglect spending one-on-one time with individuals, particularly children. As such, you should try your best to make time to spend with each person on a regular basis. This could be by taking up hobbies that will allow you to enjoy their company, or simply by arranging to spend time with them away from everyone else. This will ensure that you make everyone in your blended family feel welcome and understand that you’re there for them and love them, even when things seem to be changing constantly.
Agree on a schedule for holidays
Holidays such as Christmas, New Year and Easter, as well as celebrations such as birthdays, can be tricky when you’re a blended family, so it’s important that you’re organised and make all of your arrangements in advance. Communicate and make sure that you set up a schedule so that everyone knows what’s going on and no one feels left out. By being prepared, you can make sure that your holidays as a blended family are successful and that everyone has a great time.
It’s never easy entwining your life with someone else’s, especially when one or both of you have children. We hope these tips help you to make things easier and take the hassle out of becoming a blended family.