Tips for Building a Successful Blended Family

Successfully merging a blended family is a challenge. The following are some tips to help you get there.

Remember divorce is traumatic for a child.

Patience with a child is very important. There is not going to be an instant “love” relationship between a step-parent and step-child.

Allow time for the relationship to develop between a step-parent and step-child.

Acting out on the part of the child may be observed in the early stages of establishing a good step-parent/step-child relationship. Allow for these actions from the child, and extend and offer understanding, grace and mercy early on in the relationship.

Find mutual activities that you both enjoy. This can be as simple as enjoying the same television shows or video games, sports activities (biking, walking), etc.

Encourage the relationship and speak well of the step-child’s biological parent.

Discipline should be limited as a step-parent. There should be no corporal or abusive punishment to a step-child, and the biological parent should not allow this. If the biological parent thinks this is okay, then the biological parent needs counseling to get advice on parenting skills. The child likely needs counseling as well. If a biological parent knows this is going on in the other household, whether the other parent is the “primary” parent or not, it should not be allowed. Take action and consult with an attorney.

Show respect to both your former spouse and your current spouse. Modeling respect creates a secure environment for a child. A child wants to hear and see that their parents mutually respect each other.

Of course, this advice anticipates “reasonable” parents who don’t have mental health disorders such as narcissism and addictions, which make it almost impossible to create a healthy environment. It is sound advice if you have two parents and step-parents who are sincerely attempting to make a secure and supportive environment for the children. Unfortunately, the reason many people divorce is because of mental health disorders, so this advice is directly dependent, unfortunately, on “reasonable” individuals.