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Adjusting to a Blended Family

Gay parents with their childrenGetting married is an exciting and wonderful time. However, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t come without having to make some adjustments. This is especially true if it isn’t your first marriage. Perhaps you have children from a previous relationship. You and your partner are probably more than ready to start your new life together, but being prepared by knowing some of the potential challenges beforehand can help you be ready to know how to tackle them. Things can be further complicated if your first marriage was to a person of the opposite sex, but now you are married to your same-sex partner. This can understandably create some confusion, but there are things you can do to help. Even if this isn’t your particular situation, here are some ways you can help resolve potential situations that may occur in blended families.

Embrace the Rewards and Challenges

Your new marriage will likely come with many rewarding memories, but there will also probably be bumps along the way. Try to embrace both of these as opportunities to help your family grow closer together. You’ve probably heard the saying, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” This can be true for the family unit as well. While no one wants to go through a family crisis, working through situations together, even small ones, can help you become stronger and closer as a family.

Give it Time

Everyone involved needs to recognize you aren’t going to perfectly blend together into a family overnight. It will take time and adjustments. For example, you may not fall in love with your partner’s kids right away. This is OK and even normal. Relationships take time to grow, and that includes the relationship you have with your spouse’s children. You can help make things go smoother and perhaps more quickly by:

  • Showing interest in their lives
  • Doing things to show them you care
  • Asking your spouse what things their children like so you can find common interests

Just like it may take time for you to get used to your spouse’s children, remember it may take them some time to get to you as well. Having a new stepparent can be hard, no matter how awesome you are. The child may be used to having mom or dad all to him or herself. He or she may have a hard time sharing his or her parent with you. Remember, they had a relationship before you even knew your spouse, so give it time.

Figure Out Expectations

Perhaps the both of you have children from previous relationships that you will have custody of at least some of the time. If that is the case, you should try to get on the same page with your expectations and disciplinary practices. If one of you spanks your children while the other uses positive parenting solutions, you may find some discord in the way the family functions. While not all children will respond the same way to discipline, it’s generally a good idea to try to keep the discipline and expectations pretty uniform. This may mean you both need to compromise a little. Of course, these conversations should ideally happen before you get married and certainly not within the earshot of the children.

Have Fun

Make memories together in those first few months of marriage. This can help establish you all as a family. You don’t have to do anything expensive or extravagant like taking multiple family vacations. Even a simple picnic in a park or having a water gun fight in the backyard will suffice.

Blended families are fun and wonderful, but sometimes challenging. Things are generally the most challenging in the first few weeks and months, so try to give it time. Make sure the two of you agree on how the family should run, and start making memories that include everyone to help develop relationships.

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