The American ideal of the average family is changing in our society. The whole idea of the father, mother, and two or three children as the basic family unit; is no longer the norm for many families. Many families, are now blended families, due to marriage, remarriage, and other life style changes. Whatever the reason, the essential ingredient that makes any family work is love and commitment.
I have lived through the process of of blending a family, and it can be challenging. There are also many positive experiences that can be shared when two families come together. The added love and support is a great benefit. There is also the advantage of others who can help with child rearing, transportation, and providing guidance. The challenges, occur when blending children from both families, even the physical aspect of finding a home to accommodate all the members in your family can present new problems. When you add, step-parents, grandparents, you can see that there are many changes to consider when blending families. Some problems could be avoided, if prior to marriage, couples really took the time to know each other, and each family. Ask the tough questions before marriage, is this the person, and family I want in my children’s life? Do they have a strong work ethic, character, and morals? Will they be a positive example for my children? When you are blending a family it is no longer just about you. Does my love interest get along with my children, and other family members? What is the relationship with their ex-spouse, or ex-partner, and how will that affect our relationship?
Healthy boundaries have to be set and maintained when blending families. Listed below are some boundaries that need to be set when you are part of a blended family:
1. Respect-Each spouse must ensure that the other spouse is respected by ex-partners, children, parents and other family members. This is a ground rule that must be communicated to all concerned. It is also a healthy boundary that each spouse should protect and maintain. Respect should be given to each family member, and when respect for each individual in the family is given, it fosters positive interactions with the whole family.
2. Open and honest communication- There has to be open and honest communication. Timing is everything, choose the right time and space to communicate with your spouse and other family members. Have regular family meetings, to combine schedules, and to keep everyone informed. You and your spouse must be the driving force of the family, so communicate with each other first, then pass on needed information to others.
3. Spouses must present as a united front-Especially, when interacting with children and ex-partners. Keep each other informed, once rules and boundaries are communicated, stand together. Children should know, and see that the parents in the family stand together.It should be understood, that more than likely you will get the same answer, from either parent. Do not demean, or undermine your spouse in front of others. Presenting as a united front will set the tone for your family.
4. Provide a loving and supportive family base-Providing a loving and supportive home for your family is the top priority. One in which each family member feels loved, valued and suppoted. Nurturing and providing a healthy environment for our children leads to healthy adults.
5. Create lasting memories-Invest in quality time with your family, sharing life and activities that you all enjoy. It is the memories of fun times together that often help you through difficult times. Your children, spouse and other family members will enjoy these activities, and it brings the family closer together. Make date nights with your spouse, and family nights with other family members a consistent part of your schedule. Have fun, and laugh together, this ensures a happy home.