When you think “blended family,” the Brady Bunch may come to mind. But is there any example further from real blended family life? They all mostly got along, they had a maid, and all their problems were wrapped up in 30 minutes. In reality, bringing two separate families together is tough, but peace and harmony are not impossible.
Successfully making a blended family is not quite like a smoothie, but more like a beef stew.
1. Give the same rules and same punishments.
OK, maybe this first one won’t make them feel special, but it’s important. I don’t mean every child should be punished in the same way. Different consequences work for different kids. But if two kids disobey to the same degree, it’s unfair for you to punish your step-child more or less harshly than your biological child. That will only cause bitterness and resentment between the kids.
2. Make a family holiday.
Why not pick a day off the calendar and make it your official family holiday? Let the kids plan the celebration and come up with a creative name. For example, my last name is Watts, but my sons’ last name is Brundage. We combined the names to celebrate The Wattage Family Day! And remember, everything is better with cake!
3. Show interest in all the kids’ activities.
I know life is busy, but if you only go to baseball games or dance recitals for your biological child, that’s going to send a pretty loud message to your step kids that they are less important. You don’t have time to go to every event, but distributing your time among all the kids and not showing favoritism will help your kids see that family is the priority over one individual child. And encourage the kids to attend their step-siblings’ events too!
4. Still dedicate time to your bio kids.
Yes, #3 is important, but your biological children still need some mom time, especially if they spend time at their dad’s and crave your attention. Even if it’s just an extra 10 minutes at bedtime or a car ride to the corner store to pick up a pack of gum, give them some of yourself that the other kids don’t get and make sure your husband does the same for his kids.
5. Don’t compare your home to your ex’s home.
It’s hard to blend your family when you’re constantly comparing it to someone else’s. You will never feel content with your life if you keep looking at your ex-husband’s and seeing what he has that you don’t or vice versa. Peace is an important ingredient in the recipe for a healthy blended family.
6. Let home life be real life.
When your kids are all together, it can be very tempting to treat them to non-stop fun. After all, it’s hard for step-siblings to bicker when you’re at a theme park or loading up at the concession stand at the movies. But being able to cooperate on chores, share a space, and be bored together—that’s all part of healthy family life.
7. Create a Family Mission Statement.
When you’re on a mission, you and your group are moving in the same direction and have a common goal. A mission statement can help your family evaluate decisions and choose behaviors you find valuable. Every family needs a mission statement, but it can be especially helpful for a blended family. When the kids are living in two households or have been raised with different rules, a mission statement gets everyone on the same page. Signatures required!
What blended family tips can you share?