Tips for making blended families work

Families are different these days in that many couples are living together with children from previous relationships. This different family dynamic can cause quite a bit of strain because parents (and step-parents) may be unsure about how much involvement they should have in disciplining children. They may also be insecure about treating children differently.

This post will offer some helpful hints to make the blended family experience manageable.

Try to have fun - The best thing for children of blended families is to enjoy the time they have. For kids, it's relatively easy to have a good time, whether it is going to the park, drawing pictures, or watching movies. Even household chores can be made fun. Regardless of the activity, having fun creates bonding moments.

Develop a common goal - Working towards a shared goal also creates harmony. This may involve saving money for a family vacation or a new family television, planting a garden, or doing charitable work.  When you get together for a common cause, the barriers that separated you can be turned into valuable family moments.

Be honest about conflict - Naturally, disagreements will occur. However, deep seeded resentment can fester if conflict is not addressed quickly and honestly. When a dispute is simply pushed aside by adults, children may retaliate or retreat into a shell and feel unsupported.

Realize that change takes time - Blended families do not end up like "The Brady Bunch" overnight. Since all kids are different, it is expected that they will adjust to new situations differently. Like all relationships, blended families take work, and if time is taken to cultivate the relationship it has a better chance of working.

Source:, Making blended families work, May 31, 2013

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