According to statistics from the Pew Research Center, less than half of kids (46%) in the U.S. are living in a “traditional” family (two parents in their first marriage). And especially in recent decades, the family has become less traditional, and more complex with an increase in children living with two parents in a remarriage, children living with a single or unmarried parent, and some children living with no parent at all.
Blended families are becoming much more of a norm, yet there are some challenges that a blended family faces that others may not, or at least not to the same degree. Some of these challenges include dealing with things like past pain, hurting kids, and balancing different rules at different places. For the blended family, here are 6 helpful tips to remember.
1. Wear your reality goggles – there will be some struggles.
When there is an increased level of hurt and pain from past family experience, there is an increased likelihood of having to deal with the fallout of anger and resentment. Hurt people hurt people. It’s important to remember this.
2. Be on guard against your kids taking advantage of you.
You want to be ‘the good parent’, and you want your kids to like you, especially when you first get them back. They know this. And they’re already struggling with divided loyalties. Be careful to guard against manipulation, and try not to buy them things instead of giving them what they really need and want— more of you.
3. Have fun as a family.
Focus on the positives. It’s very important that your family has regular times to do special activities, and spend quality time together having fun, making good memories, and creating new family traditions. Because everyone in the family has past pain, it is valuable to establish and regularly remind each other how blessed you are to have each other.
Whether your children split their time each week at different homes, or have biological and step-parents in the mix within the same home, it is very important that parents are unified as much as possible on issues that present potential tension like expectations, bedtimes, discipline, etc. One great challenge for many blended families is dealing with different rules and parenting styles at different places from one weekend to the next. It is helpful to establish expectations as clearly as possible in advance between all parents involved.
5. Love one another unconditionally.
The most powerful force in any family is love. Unconditional love. Because when a family is willing to love each other no matter what, they are able to overcome all odds by ultimately bringing out the best in each other. While blended families have a natural tendency to be very complex, a priority placed upon unconditional love in the home helps keep things simple.The most powerful force in any family is love. Unconditional love.
6. Have patience and trust that all things will work together for good.
Believe that even though things may not be perfect, things are good. And in whatever situation you find yourself in, sometimes nothing takes the place of time. So make the most of what you’ve been given, and live in the moment, because you’ll never get it back.
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What is one fun thing you’d like to do as a family this year?”