In second marriages, a blended family is one that includes children from one or both of the individual’s first households. Children may experience a myriad of emotions in this situation:
- Left out of your choice. “Why do I have to live with these other kids?”
- Uncertainty. Your child may not know what to expect or what it will mean to have this new person or people in his or her life.
- Anger. Your child may not like this change.
- Concern. They wonder what their new step-siblings will be like, and how their relationship with their biological parents will change.
These are all common reactions, and there are two important strategies that will help. The first is to be realistic – things won’t be perfect overnight, things may get worse before they get better, and your progress may even move backwards at some points.
The second strategy is patience. Kids need time to trust and count on you. Let them adjust to their new situation gradually and give them plenty of time to make a successful transition.
You need patience as well. You will probably give a lot of time, energy, love and affection that will not be returned immediately. Think of it as making small investment that may one day pay back a lot, but don’t expect anything in return for now. Manage your expectations so you’re not disappointed or resentful.
Blending families can also be stressful for parents. Make sure you present a unified parenting approach to the children – arguing or disagreeing in front of them may encourage them to try to come between you.
If you’re struggling, talk to a professional who is experienced in assisting blended families to come together and overcome the obstacles that each individual in the family may face. With time and effort, you can create a loving and supportive blended family that will last a lifetime.