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When Your Partner & Your Child Don’t Get Along

Your partner and your child don't get along

It’s not easy when your partner and your child don’t get along, and it can have a real impact on your own relationships. You might feel angry or disappointed in your partner for not being able to get along with your child. You might feel frustrated with your child for rejecting your partner’s attempts to get along.

What to do when your partner and your child can’t get along

Do they not get along, or does your partner just not love your child as much as you do? It is completely natural for you to desire that your partner will love your child in the same way you do. However, we need to consider the fact that this bond may not be possible to achieve.  You have seen them grow, watched them laugh, watched them achieve various milestones, and celebrated each one of them. You’ve read books together, taken trips together, were there on their first day of school. Your partner cannot expect (or be expected to) develop this kind of bond overnight.  You could argue that a stepparent and stepchild’s relationship has a distinct attribute to it; that love is ultimately a decision. They have to choose to love each other.

But they REALLY don’t get along

Your child might still be missing not only their own parent (who is now living separately from you) but also missing all of you being together as a family unit. As long as they’re still processing this, and grieving the loss of this family unit, they will likely display some unwillingness to bond with your new partner. Grief doesn’t just happen when someone passes on—grief happens with any kind of loss.  Let your child grieve this loss before you expect them to fully embrace their new family situation.

Your partner may need support finding ways to connect with your child. If they don’t have children of their own, the relentlessness of parenting will probably take them by surprise. They may need more guidance from you than either of you anticipated; this is ok. It’s better that you take the lead here than leave them feeling unsure of how to proceed.  You should absolutely discuss what their role is as a parental figure, including how you approach matters like discipline.

It’s not like it is on TV

Has the media ingrained false images of what a stepfamily should be like? No doubt about it! The Brady Bunch seems to have stepfamily life all worked out. Jake and Josh, Modern Family, and other shows make it seem like stepfamily life only has beautiful sides and no ugly ones. The truth is, real life looks a little different from what’s on TV. Being a stepfamily can be complicated and it can be messy. So don’t beat yourself up if you’ve been trying to live up to TV standards.  We’re here to tell you it’s OK for your blended family to be imperfect. Hang in there – you got this!

Think about how your partner and your child feel

It can be upsetting for your partner if they feel like they’ve been working hard to develop a relationship and your child keeps rejecting them. Jealousy can arise when they observe the time and love that you give to your child, and the way your child responds to you. They may just now realize that they will probably always come second in your eyes.  These feelings are valid and allowed! Your partner might even not like your children sometimes, and this is ok. It may not be ideal, but it’s not unusual. It might give you less stress to understand that it’s OK to have both positive and negative feelings between stepparents and stepchildren. What’s important is that your partner and children are treating each other with respect.

Accepting your partner and your child may never love each other

And what if even with time and work, love never develops between your child and your partner? Maybe they end up just caring for each other, with mutual respect. What if you let go of all expectations for love and deep-rooted bonds to develop? Aiming for mutual care & respect can lift a weight from everyone’s shoulders and lead to a more harmonious life. And of course, love may still develop in time.

Things you can try (but don’t force anything!)

  • Look for natural opportunities to do family activities together.
  • When you create opportunities for bonding, do it without expectation. Trying something new that none of you have done before can be a great way for this to happen.
  • Throw out some ideas and allow them to land naturally. Forced interactions will only lead to more tension and unwillingness.
  • Make sure both parties feel like they’re important to you by spending quality one-on-one time.
  • Keep talking to both parties about how they’re feeling, and make sure you step in before resentment or disrespect becomes an issue.
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Integrating families Living together

Welcoming a New Baby Into Your Blended Family

Family of 4 - 06 (with new baby)

Bringing a new baby into a blended family is exciting, but it can also be a little anxiety-inducing. It can be tough for the kids to understand the new dynamic. They may have struggled with creating your blended family in the first place; accepting a new stepparent, maybe a new house, and possibly new stepsiblings. Now there’s a new baby in the mix. You may also receive unwelcome input from family members, your ex, your partner’s ex, or other ‘well-meaning’ outsiders.

The important thing is to celebrate the news of a new baby, while doing your best to prepare your blended family for the changes that are coming. Here is some advice to guide you (plus a story from a mom who’s been there!).

How do the kids feel about a new baby joining the blended family?

You and your partner are probably over the moon about this news, but more likely than not, it’s tempered by concern over how the kids might react. If they’re young, they might be quite excited at the idea of a baby, since they don’t have the ability to anticipate how life will change once the baby arrives. Older children will quickly come to understand how this might impact them and therefore may not be very excited.

How might they react? On one hand, a new baby can feel like an anchoring point for the family. After all, he or she will be the first member of the family who is biologically related to everybody. This can give your kids a sense of togetherness that the family may have been missing before.

On the other hand,  children may feel threatened at the idea of welcoming a new baby. The fact that this baby will have both its biological parents in the same house may cause jealousy or resentment.  Common concerns for kids include the fear of losing your attention, as well as the possibility that you could love the baby more than them, or that the baby will be more part of the family than they are.  A new baby can heighten the feeling that while the blended family kids are ‘yours’ and ‘mine’, the new baby is ‘ours’.

It can be hard to hear that your children have thoughts like this, but  it’s important to talk to them so you can help them process any negative feelings about the new baby in your blended family.

How to prepare stepchildren for a new baby in a blended family

Before the baby comes:

You might feel like you want to delay the news as long as possible, in order to avoid uncomfortable situations.  But the earlier you talk about this as a family, the more time you have to process it together. It’s a good idea to speak to your children about the possibility of a new sibling if you decide to try for a baby.  Bringing it up early and speaking of it in a positive light can help give them time to get used to the idea and create positive associations.  That way if you and your partner do fall pregnant, they’ve already had the opportunity to process the idea and it doesn’t come as a shock.

If you and your partner are already expecting and haven’t had the chance to speak to your kids about the possibility of a new sibling, that’s okay. You’re not too late.  As a general rule, the more time they have to process, the better. So start NOW!

It can be a great idea to include your child in planning and preparations for the new baby. This can be everything from buying new baby clothes, picking colours for the nursery, aww-ing over ultrasound images, feeling the baby kick, and brainstorming baby names. Make sure that they feel included and like they are part of the new baby excitement, rather than just witnessing it from outside.

This can also be a great time to make your children feel special. Buying them a new toy, making them their favorite meal for dinner, or dedicating some special time to bond as a family can make a big difference. Talk about how much you love them, and how much their new sibling will love them too. It’s important that they feel your love so they don’t worry you will have less of it for them once the new baby comes.

If your children are experiencing anxiety or fear about what’s to come, glossing over it or pushing it aside is never a good idea. Instead, talk openly about their worries and make sure they feel validated and heard. These feelings are completely legitimate and they need to have the space to feel them. Your job is to create a safe environment for your children to feel and express their emotions and to address them as they come up. Listening – and some comforting words and hugs – can be incredibly healing.

After the baby comes

Once the new baby arrives, it’s only natural that a huge chunk of the parents’ time, attention, and energy will go toward caring for him or her. This means that you need to be extra careful that your older children don’t feel neglected. Doing your best to keep their routines as consistent as possible will help to minimize their feelings of disruption.

This is the perfect opportunity for your children or stepchildren to learn about being a good big brother or sister. No matter their age, you can let them hold and kiss the baby, learning how to be gentle with him or her. And if your kids are a bit older, get them to help out with things. Younger kids love to feel useful, so give them jobs like fetching diapers, finding a toy, or passing you things if you have a sleeping baby on you. Older kids can push the stroller, give a bottle, or read to the baby.

After the arrival of the new baby, try to continue having one on one time with your other children. Things as simple as going on a walk or watching a movie together can ensure they feel that they can still count on your love and attention. This can also be a good time to check in with your child about how they’re feeling and see if they need any reassurance. Remember,all feelings are valid!

Don’t overthink it!

We just gave you a whole lot to think about so this may sound counterintuitive, but it’s true! It’s an exciting time, and having a new baby entails enough logistics, so don’t overthink the other stuff. Prepare the kids, but don’t waste time worrying about what ‘might’ happen when the baby arrives. Don’t dampen your excitement because you’re worried about upsetting other people. You and your partner are allowed to celebrate this, and if you try to mute it you may end up feeling resentful.

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Integrating families

Blended Family Holiday Season: How to Maintain Your Sanity

blended family taking a selfie during Christmas meal

Forget the most wonderful time of the year; in a blended family, the holiday season can be the most challenging time of the year! Whatever holiday you celebrate, if you have to negotiate shared custody these events can be full of emotion. There are some commonly faced issues, and we’ve got tips on how to navigate them.

Blended Family Holiday Tips:

  1. Which parent are the kids spending the holiday with?
    If you share custody with your ex-partner, you’ll want to have this conversation early! Open with your suggestion, but make it clear you understand that your ex also wants to spend time with the children. Some families opt for alternating who gets the kids each year; this is probably the most practical solution if you don’t live close to each other. If you do live in the same area, you may be able to split their time over the day/s.
  2. You can’t please everyone, so don’t try
    It can be tricky to organize holiday logistics at the best of times, but with a blended family, you may have twice as many stakeholders! Your parents may put pressure on you to bring the kids to family celebrations, even though it’s your ex’s turn to have them. Maybe you have bio kids and stepkids and they have to separate for the holidays even though they’d rather be together. If you try to please everyone, you’ll likely spend your time caught up in logistics (and still everyone won’t be happy). Prioritize what you need to, and try to ignore everything else.
  3. Don’t communicate through your children
    Telling your ex your plans for Christmas day might be the last thing you want to do, but relying on or forcing your kids to pass information to your ex isn’t fair on them. Keep it as brief as you need to, but make sure you and your ex communicate directly about any logistics.
  4. Acknowledge the stress of blended family holiday celebrations
    Your kids might be more anxious than they’re letting on, so it’s important to let them know you understand that holiday time can be stressful. They might be worried about missing the parent they’re not spending time with or stressed about having to move around to different houses and families during holiday celebrations. Letting them know that it’s ok to feel stressed and that they can talk to you will help.
  5. Respect everyone’s traditions
    Not everyone celebrates in the same way; perhaps you and your kids had a certain holiday routine, but your partner and their kids did things differently. Try to incorporate both traditions, or have a family chat to talk about how you can merge your traditions.
  6. Compare notes on gifts
    For holidays like Christmas where gift-giving is involved, it’s a good idea for you and your ex to go over your kids’ wishlists together. This way you can make sure you’re not doubling up and can discuss spending limits if necessary.
  7. Remember why you celebrate
    It can be easy to get caught up in trying to make things perfect, trying to make sure everyone is happy, and the sheer logistics of it all. Christmas, Hannukah, Thanksgiving, Deepavali, Hari Raya… these holidays are harder to navigate as a blended family. But focus on why you celebrate, and what you want to pass on to your kids. Help your kids celebrate, even if it’s over FaceTime because it’s not your turn to have them.

Your blended family holiday season might be challenging, but there will be moments of joy in amongst the chaos. Don’t let the petty disagreements and tricky logistics weigh you down, find the happiness and lean into it!

Image via Pexels

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Integrating families Living together

Blended Family Problems: When Your Blended Family Won’t Blend

happy blended family sitting on the front steps of their house

Blended families are common but that doesn’t make them easy; so what do you do when your blended family problems seem insurmountable?! Despite all our hard work and good intentions, sometimes two families just don’t mix together well. If you find yourself in such a situation, it may feel a little scary and daunting. How can you make everybody get along and, well… blend together smoothly?

The good news is that this situation is not unusual or impossible to solve. If you know what red flags to look out for, you can identify what to work on in order to resolve the problems that are standing in the way of allowing your blended family to thrive. Here are some tips from parents who’ve been there…

Signs of blended family problems

The first step to improving your blended family problems is to identify if things aren’t blending well. Here are some signs to look out for:

  • When stepsiblings don’t get along
    Sibling rivalry is standard in all families, but it can get especially problematic in blended families when brothers and sisters don’t have the bond of a lifelong relationship to help them set aside their differences.
  • When jealousy rears its head
    There are many ways jealousy can manifest in a blended family. Maybe your children are jealous of your new partner, feeling that they are taking your attention away from them. Maybe there is jealousy between the stepsiblings. Heck, you may even feel jealous of the blood bond between your partner and their children that you don’t have with your stepkids.
  • When parenting styles don’t mix
    There are so many different approaches to parenting and the one you have may not automatically go hand-in-hand with that of your partner. Your blended family may experience some hiccups and confusion if your parenting styles are at odds.
  • When new behavioural problems appear
    If your children suddenly show signs of behavioral problems like defiance or aggression that weren’t there before, it may be related to the growing pains of a blended family.
  • When there is an obvious split in the household
    The goal of a blended family is to blend. If you find that everybody keeps to “their” side of the family, it’s most likely an issue.

Red flags for blended families

All of the problems listed above are on the general side, so here are some specific examples of red flag scenarios that may point to a need to work on the “blending” part of your blended family.

  • Your stepchildren don’t listen to you or respect your authority, or the same is the case for your biological children and their stepparent.
  • Family gatherings and meals are tense and uncomfortable.
  • Stepsiblings don’t speak to one another.
  • Siblings gang up on and exclude their step-sibling(s).
  • You and your partner can’t agree on rules for the household.
  • Your step-children only ask their biological parent for permission and help and don’t come to you – or vice versa with your partner.
  • Your blended family has a hard time agreeing upon things such as what activity to do, what places to go to, and so on.

Naturally, there are many more red flags that can be cause for concern, but these examples should help you get a sense of what to watch out for.

Resolving Blended Family Problems

If you’re reading this and finding yourself nodding along to some of the problems and red flags listed above, you don’t have to panic. Your blended family may not be in its ideal place right now, but there are solutions to every problem. Here are some steps you can take to address the issues you may have mixing your families.

Show a united front

Children will follow their parent’s example and if you and your partner aren’t completely unified, chances are the kids will also feel comfortable acting like they’re not a solid family unit. Make sure that you and your partner put in the effort to stay consistent and act together. Don’t contradict each other’s rules or negate each other’s parenting styles. It may take a lot of long, even difficult, conversations to get on the same page about the rules and standards you want to put in place for your household. This is an effort that is not only worth making but is absolutely critical to make in order to allow your blended family to truly blend.

Respect the old

Transitioning to a blended family can be threatening for children who may fear the loss of a previous lifestyle that they were attached to. Your kids might miss how things used to be, leading to a rejection of the new. Make sure that you don’t try to pretend the past never happened. Respect the traditions that you had before. Sure, some things will have to change, but that doesn’t have to mean letting go of everything your kids loved about your family’s previous iteration. Letting them hold on to some traditions can be a great comfort.

Build the new

That being said, building new family traditions can be incredibly exciting! Finding common ground between what both sides of the family like can be a fun process that leads to exciting revelations. Maybe you’ll start doing taco night every Tuesday or playing soccer together on the weekends. The future is full of possibilities for your blended family, so why not enjoy the process of discovering what your new traditions and customs will be? Let your kids take an active part and even lead the way forward so they feel invested in and excited by their family’s future instead of alienated by it.

Take your time

Of course, change takes time. Getting used to the new isn’t easy for anybody, especially not kids who haven’t experienced too many major life changes. It’s okay if things take a while and there are some bumps in the road. Respect and validate your children’s feelings. Try to talk things out openly instead of sweeping them under the rug. You’re all in this together, and the process may be slow-going. That’s perfectly fine.

Ask for help

Sometimes family problems go beyond what you can handle on your own, and that is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. If you’re at a loss and none of what you are trying seems to help, it’s a fantastic idea to reach out and seek professional help. Family counselors and therapists are trained to help you overcome difficult issues. Even just one or two meetings with a counselor might make you feel much better.

Alls well that ends well

It’s no secret that getting a blended family to cooperate and get along can be challenging. If that’s your experience, you aren’t alone. Many blended families experience problems like a lack of harmony or even jealousy, bullying, and defiance. But if you know what signs to look out for and approach your issues with patience, candor, and good intentions, you’ll be able to get through this.

Image via Pexels

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Integrating families

Are Stepgrandparents Important in Blended Families?

stepgrandparents and their grandchildren sitting outside and smiling

Being a child in a blended family can be tough enough at times, even before you add confusion over new relationships like stepgrandparents, step-aunts and uncles. It can be a lot for kids to handle, so if you’re introducing stepgrandparents, take it slowly and be patient. Here are some of the top questions people ask about stepgrandparenting and blended families…

Are stepgrandparents important in blended families?

There is no right answer here, it depends on your own family situation. If you’re close with your parents, or your partner is close to their parents, then there’s a good chance you’ll want them to form a relationship with their stepgrandchildren. It doesn’t mean that this is an essential relationship though, and it’s not worth forcing a closeness if your or your partner’s parents are not already part of your life. But if you have a good relationship, grandparents can bring a wealth of experience, love, and richness to your children’s or stepchildren’s lives.

What are some good names for stepgrandparents?

One topic that comes up again and again with grandparents in all families, but especially blended ones, is the issue of what the grandchildren call their grandparents. It’s best not to force children to call their stepgrandparents anything in particular but let them do what feels right to them. Don’t worry if the children don’t end up calling their stepgrandparents the same thing as the biological children do. It’s important to let these things unfold naturally, but feel free to make suggestions if there’s something that appeals.

Name suggestions:

Classics: Nana, Grandma, Pop, Grandpa, Nonna, Nonno, etc
Classics with a twist: Grandma/Nana Mary, Grandpa/Pop Joe
Something more unusual: Grandmama, Grandpapa, Gigi, G-ma, G-pa
First names: If you’re comfortable, a variation on your first name

Is a stepgrandparent considered a relative?

Not for legal purposes, but it’s entirely up to you how you choose to prioritize the relationship. One of our favorite blended family quotes says, “Family is not defined by our genes, it is built and maintained through love.”

Tips for stepgrandparents

  • Be patient and take it slowly
    Both stepgrandchildren and stepgrandparents may feel uncomfortable with the idea that there is pressure to find affection and closeness. It’s okay to be a little hesitant and apprehensive at first. After all, it can take years to develop the trust and acceptance that characterize the best family relationships, so take things as they come.
  • Don’t play favorites
    It may feel more natural to be closer to biological family members, however, it is important for kids, parents, and grandparents in stepfamilies to make the effort to be as fair and equitable as possible. Children do notice and are affected when their stepsiblings are favored over them.
  • Don’t gang up
    It’s important for the different “sides” of the family not to gang up and take sides against one another. It can be easy for the grandparents to back up their biological grandchildren over their stepgrandchildren or their child over their child’s partner. The grandparents might have a hard time letting go of their child’s ex-partner, always comparing the stepparent to the biological parent. These behaviors are unhelpful and will create plenty of resentment.
  • Show interest
    Show interest in your stepgrandkids. While they may be shy toward you initially, it will mean a lot if you’re proactive about building a relationship. Babysit occasionally, join in events if you’re invited, and be supportive of the blended family dynamic.

Finally, have a grand old time

Let’s be honest, the stepgrandparent role in blended families is not an easy one but can be a very fun and rewarding one. Things can get complicated and messy in all family situations, let alone ones in which there are exes and steps and grands involved. So, it’s okay if things develop slowly, feel a bit unusual, or have their challenges. Have fun, where possible, or aim for things to be fun. Begin with grand intentions and generally grand things will happen.

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Living together

50 Blended Family Quotes That Will Make You Feel Seen

blended family quote written on a wall, it says make people feel loved today

Whether you’re a stepparent growing to love your stepchildren, a child accepting a new parental figure, or a bio-parent welcoming a new partner into their family, your version of a blended family is unique and beautiful. Here are some of our favorite blended family quotes to honor this amazing (sometimes maddening) journey.

Read more: 10 TV Shows About Blended Families

Blended family quotes for every type of blended family…

    1. Families don’t have to match. You don’t have to look like someone else to love them. Leigh Anne Tuohy
    2. The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other. Richard Bach
    3. The secret to blending families is… There is no secret. It’s scary and awesome and ragged and perfect and always changing. Love and laugh hard; try again tomorrow. Mir Kamin
    4. Sometimes families are created in different ways but are still in every way a family. Unknown
    5. You’re facing one of the most important challenges of your life. Yet, being a member of a blended family can be an exciting adventure for all concerned. Kathie M. Thompson
    6. We aren’t “step”, we aren’t “half”, we’re just a family. Unknown
    7. Family means putting your arms around each other and being there. Barbara Bush
    8. The blended family isn’t just an ordinary family times two. It’s a special kind of family with special needs. Maxine Marsolin
    9. Children can never have too many positive adult role models in their lives. Unknown
    10. Co-parenting is not a competition. It’s a collaboration of two homes working together with the best interest of the child at heart. Work for your kids, not against them. Unknown
    11. There is nothing so rewarding as bringing two families together and making it work. Unknown
    12. Anything is possible when you have the right people to support you. Misty Copeland
    13. Family is not defined by our genes, it is built and maintained through love. Unknown
    14. The last names may not match, but the hearts certainly do. Unknown
    15. Blended families: woven together by choice, strengthened together by love, tested by everything, and each uniquely ours. Unknown
    16. Thank you for blessing me with a great family, not a perfect one, but a great one. Unknown
    17. Blood makes you related; love makes you family. Unknown
    18. We had grown into one another somewhere along the way. We were officially a team. Shannon A. Thompson
    19. The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life. Richard Bach
    20. Being happy in your family is more important than being perfect. Unknown
    21. All families are different and unique, but they all have one thing in common—love. Unknown
    22. Bringing two families together is never easy. But in the end, it’s more than worth it. Unknown
    23. Blended families are beautiful. Every member has their own color, but it’s only when you bring them together that you can see the rainbow. Unknown
    24. Every family has a story to tell—blended families just have more chapters. Unknown
    25. Family isn’t defined only by last names or by blood; it’s defined by commitment and by love. Dave Willis
    26. Sticking with your family is what makes it a family. Mitch Albom
    27. Being part of a blended family means you’re part of something very wonderful. Unknown
    28. No family is perfect… We argue, we fight. We even stop talking to each other at times. But in the end, your family is your family. The love will always be there. Unknown
    29. It doesn’t matter how big or small your family is; it matters how much love you’re willing to put into it. Unknown
    30. Bright families are just like bright colors: When you blend two, you get something beautiful! Unknown
    31. There will always be steps you can take toward unity in your blended family. You will make—one step at a time! Donna Houpe
    32. Blended families are a beautiful mix of diverse people who each serve an important role in our lives. At times, it can be challenging to appreciate everyone’s unique beauty. Deana Keller La Rosa
    33. Family means hugging and supporting each other. The word “family” brings to mind a group of people who love, care for, support one another. Unknown
    34. We all have different views on how we should live our lives but nothing comes before your loved ones – they’re always by your side as long as you need them. Unknown
    35. You are not blood; you’re family. As long as we respect and support each other, our bond will never be broken. Unknown
    36. When two families combine, they create a new definition of love. Unknown
    37. Becoming a blended family means mixing, mingling, scrambling, and sometimes muddling our way through delicate family issues, complicated relationships, and individual differences, hurts, and fears. But through it all, we are learning to love like a family. Tom Frydenger
    38. The first key to balancing your busy life and creating a peaceful environment for your blended family to thrive in, lies in defining your family values—first as a couple, then as a family. Kellye Laughery
    39. There is no such thing as a ‘broken family.’ Family is family, and is not determined by marriage certificates, divorce papers, or adoption documents. C JoyBell
    40. Family is family, whether it’s the one you start out with, the one you end up with, or the family you gain along the way. Unknown
    41. Families are the compass that guides us. They are the inspiration to reach great heights, and our comfort when we occasionally falter. Brad Henry
    42. Behind a lot of great kids is a stepparent who stepped up, stepped in, and gave a sh*t. Unknown
    43. DNA doesn’t make a family—love does. Unknown
    44. Any man can make a child, but it takes a special man to help raise a child. Tony Gaskins
    45. Blood doesn’t always make a parent; being a parent comes from the heart. Unknown
    46. Don’t worry if you’re not an instant, happily-ever-after blended family. Expect to endure ‘I give up’ days and rejoice in the ‘I can do this,’ days. It will take work, dedication, an excellent sense of humor, and strong resolve. But hey, since when has any family taken the easy route? Don’t do ‘easy’—do ‘worth it!’ Jessica James
    47. Remember why you chose to come together in the first place—the love that you have for your partner. Your partner’s children are an extension of them and this makes them just as important to your happiness. Beth Happiness
    48. Live one day at a time (or one moment, if you have to). Blend little by little and celebrate even the smallest breakthrough. Andi Parker-Kimbrough
    49. One of the most important lessons our children have learned from divorces is that some things in life can come to an end, but that’s okay because something new is manifested. In our case, it’s a blended family that has respect, love, trust, authenticity, and a sense of fun. Jennifer Kessler
    50. Being a stepmom means they grew inside of my heart instead of my tummy. Unknown

We hope some of these blended family quotes resonated with you! The adjustment might be hard, especially for the children, but with proactive parents and some work, it’ll all be worth the effort. You’ll soon see that every member of the blended family will become a strong support for each other. And that’s the beauty of being a family.

Image via Unsplash

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Integrating families Living together

What To Do When Your Stepchildren Disrespect You

Sulky young girl looking at camera, Stepchildren Disrespectful

Have you ever watched a movie about blended families? Most of the time there’s a barrier to overcome, but by the end of the movie everyone understands each other and gets along like a house on fire. Often these movies are comedies, which make everything look even more lighthearted and fun. If your stepchildren are disrespectful these movies may have you wondering why you don’t have the same relationship with your stepkids. Maybe instead of being precocious and sassy like the kids in the movies, they behave as though they don’t like you, or even disrespect you. But let’s be clear, these storylines are not the reality of most families.

Adjusting to a new family takes time and effort, both for the stepparent and the stepchildren. If you want to improve the relationship between yourself and your stepkids (or your partner and your kids) don’t worry, we’ve got some tips on how to inject some blended family comedy goodness into your home life.

If your stepchildren are disrespecting you

Disrespect in a family is not acceptable, blended or otherwise. No one can or should be forced into a relationship they’re not ready for, but it should be clear to all family members that respect is a basic right.

1. Get the rules straight at the start

Start as you mean to go on! Although you can’t force your stepchild to love or even like you immediately, you can require a certain level of respect. This means you and your partner have to lay down the rules right from the start so that your stepchild knows what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior. You should be clear that you will also respect them and their boundaries.

2. Be firm about disrespectful behavior

Once you lay the ground rules, you and your partner should be firm in enforcing them. It’s no use if you make the rules but you don’t enforce them, because then your stepchild will see that you’re not serious. Being consistent is the best thing you can do for the family. Your partner plays an important role here and should back you up if your stepchildren are disrespectful to you.

3. Get to know your stepchild

It’s crucial that you get to know your stepchild. As you get to know them, you’ll get a deeper understanding of the emotions they are going through. If there are situations that consistently cause them to behave disrespectfully or act out against you, getting to know them better may help you get to the bottom of this.

4. Don’t try too much too soon

Don’t try to rush the relationship. Wherever you are on your journey to know each other better, try to enjoy the process instead of always trying to push ahead to the next stage. Your stepchild has been through a lot and will need time to adjust to the marriage, and learn to trust you as their stepparent. Some research shows that it can take four to seven years for a stepfamily to function like a biological family.

5. Keep talking to your spouse

You and your spouse should be a team in navigating this relationship. Your stepkids will look to them especially and if their parent doesn’t call them out on their behavior they may feel like it’s acceptable. Talk to your spouse about what’s happening, what you’re feeling, and what you’re going through. Discuss what’s working and what’s not and from there you’ll be able to face these challenges together.

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Integrating families

Should Blended Families Take Separate Vacations?

young kids from a blended family running along the beach with a ball on separate vacation

Separate or joint—which is the best type of vacation for a blended family? When it comes to vacations, opinions can be divided on whether blended families should take separate vacations or joint vacations.

So should blended families take separate vacations?

It’s a tricky question; it might seem easier to split into your familiar, comfortable groups, but a vacation can be a great way to bond and spend some really fun time together.

Benefits of a joint vacation for blended families

  • Children get to spend more time with each other
  • Children get the opportunity to know their stepparent
  • It gives the whole family opportunities to enjoy new experiences together
  • Being outside their home environment allows everyone to see their new family members in a different light
  • It allows the family to create new memories together

Overall, there are far more benefits to a joint vacation. A split vacation will give everyone the feeling that although the family lives together, they do not have the same status. It reinforces the ‘yours/mine’ distinction and may create resentment between stepsiblings.

Benefits of a separate vacation for blended families

  • The children (and adults!) might find it easier to relax with their biological family
  • There are fewer disagreements since there are fewer people involved
  • Can be more affordable

There may be times when a separate vacation is necessary, such as scheduling issues, different interests, financial considerations, or age differences. We’ve heard that separate vacations sometimes work best if the stepparent can also join the holiday—perhaps while their children are with their previous spouse. This avoids the ‘yours/mine’ feeling, even if not everyone in the family is on the holiday. Of course, you’ll know what works best for your family; just make sure the idea of a separate vacation is genuinely embraced by everyone involved.

Planning for blended family vacations

A joint vacation for a blended family will not be without its stresses (although don’t forget, the same often goes for traditional family vacations too!), but planning will help. Here’s our step-by-step guide to a successful blended family vacation.

Vacation Budget

Decide on the budget of the vacation with your spouse before discussing ideas with the kids. This should include a total budget, plus a breakdown of what you expect to spend on accommodation, dining, and any spending money.

Vacation destination

This is possibly the trickiest step!. Going with the preferences of any one family member or child can make the others disgruntled. The easiest option is that you and your spouse agree on a destination and inform the kids. Simple! But if you want to involve the family in the decision, here are some of our suggestions for making this part as painless as possible.

  • Ask everyone for their favorite vacation spot and why they want to vacation in that spot. Every suggestion is valid and important, listen to all their suggestions carefully.
  • List out all the venues that are within your budget. Venues outside the budget will have to wait for another day.
  • If you are planning a vacation every year then you can rotate the list. Each holiday you can vacation at one family member’s favorite spot.
  • If you are not planning another vacation for some time then you can decide the venue by doing a lucky draw and pick one at random from the list of appropriate suggestions.

Whatever you do keep the venue selection process logical. Avoid any bias and don’t succumb to any emotional blackmail.

Preparing the kids for the vacation

It will probably be necessary to prepare your children for the first blended family vacation. Emphasize the fact that since you are now a family, your vacations are going to be together. If the children have separate bedrooms at home but you expect them to share a room with their stepsiblings, inform them in advance. If there will be an opportunity for separate outings for parts of the family (such as the biological families) then raise this before you go.

Flexibility on vacation

It is not necessary that the blended family spends every minute of their vacation together. Enforced time together is not the measure of a successful vacation. Perhaps the children will go off together while the adults relax, or the older kids will go hiking while the younger ones swim. Don’t schedule things too much, allow for some flexibility, and give the kids some space to have input and take the lead when it comes to activities.

Enjoying your blended family vacation

So should blended families take separate vacations? Planning a blended family vacation can seem tough but the benefits are worth it, and it should become easier each time. Don’t let concerns or fears prevent you from taking a chance on a holiday together— you likely have a wonderful experience waiting for you. Traveling and letting go of your daily routine will, and creating brand new memories together is a great way to forge new and stronger bonds. When you return ask children what they liked most about the trip, their answers might surprise you. (And if they are ungracious, don’t take it to heart; what may seem like a problem for them today may turn into a funny memory some years down the line.) Lastly, frame some vacation photos as a reminder of good times spent together—and start planning for your next vacation, it’ll be even better!

Lead image via Pexels

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Integrating families Living together

10 TV Shows About Blended Families

kids watching tv shows about blended families

TV shows about blended families or single-parent families aren’t as rare as they used to be. And while we all enjoy a bit of escapism, sometimes it feels really validating to see a version of your life played out on screen (even if most of them are highly unrealistic). Here are some of our top picks for TV shows about blended families.

The Brady Bunch

The original, if not the best, and certainly the most famous blended family. A widowed mom and her three daughters and a widower dad and his three sons join together to become the ultimate blended family with the help of housekeeper Alice. A lesson is learned in each episode.

Full House (and Fuller House)

A widower’s two brothers move in to help him raise his three children. Bob Saget and John Stamos were especially great in this sitcom, which also offered a life lesson in each episode. In the new version, the kids are all grown up, and the eldest daughter DJ is now a widow with three kids. She returns to her family home to live with her sister and best friend; heartwarming moments and hilarity ensue in both versions.

Modern Family

Modern Family features a blended family, a gay married couple, and a nuclear family, all as dysfunctional and loving as each other. Despite the comedy nature of the show, Modern Family addresses real issues and offers insight into the struggles faced by all families, regardless of how they’re formed. Plenty of laughs to be had!

Duchess

Single mom Katherine is raising her daughter in London, and offending almost everyone around her at the same time. Having conceived her daughter after a one-night stand with a member of a boyband, she is now ready for another child and spends much of the first season trying to pressure her daughter’s father into getting her pregnant again–despite the fact that they despise each other. This series is far from realistic, but silly and fun. (But NOT one to watch with the kids, there’s plenty of swearing and sex!)

Single Parents

Featuring (unsurprisingly) a group of single parents as they navigate parenting, work, dating, and life in general. This was canceled after two seasons but received positive reviews for its depiction of life as a single parent. It’s also worth watching to see Gossip Girl’s Leighton Meester on screen again.

Drake and Josh

This one focuses on the relationship between two very different stepbrothers. One is cool and popular, the other is smart but awkward. A funny and endearing take on teen problems as the boys navigate life in a blended family. A good one for younger kids to watch.

Step by Step

An oldie but a goodie, this ran through most of the 90’s so it’s dated but worth a watch. A divorced man and a widowed woman, each with three children, come together to create a blended family (sound familiar?). There are plenty of arguments and resentments within the family, but they grow to become a loyal and loving family.

Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce

Abby is a successful self-help author who turns to her friends for support as her impending divorce threatens to derail her career. Abby has been the main breadwinner in the relationship and we see her struggle with co-parenting, child support payments, and her ex-husband’s new partner playing a part in her children’s lives. The struggles are realistic (even if everyone is unnaturally beautiful and wealthy) and relatable. Later on in the series, we also see Abby struggle to deal with the ex-wife of her new partner as Abby develops a relationship with his kids.

The Fosters

Stef and Lina are an interracial, lesbian married couple with five children. Brandon is Stef’s son from her previous marriage, and the couple have adopted twins together. They also foster two other children who they go on to adopt later in the series. The premise alone tells you that this show is going to be exploring all the possible dynamics of blended families. Jennifer Lopez was an executive producer for The Fosters, so it has JLo’s stamp of approval!

Sister, Sister

Featuring Tia and Tamera Mowry, Sister, Sister is about identical twins separated at birth and reunited as teenagers. It sounds like Parent Trap, but with a more tragic back story. The girls are adopted out separately at birth, and meet by chance in a shopping mall. The two girls and their parents end up living together in a blended family of sorts, although their adoptive parents are not in a relationship.

You may not see yourself and your family depicted accurately on-screen, but it’s comforting to see the struggles, the joys, and the ups and downs of blended families play out on TV. Let us know if you have any other favorite TV shows about blended families to recommend!

Read more:

Blended Families with Teens: 5 Things You Should Know
Should a Stepparent Discipline Their Partner’s Kids

Image via Pexels

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Uncategorized

Why Are Blended Families Increasing?

Are Blended Families Increasing

Are families changing? Are blended families increasing? We don’t eat, sleep, or work in the same way that we did a hundred years ago (or even a few decades ago!), so it is only natural that the family structure will change over time. The idea of the nuclear family has evolved to become something more diverse, inclusive, and variable.

Blended families are more common than ever— it is estimated the 1 in 3 Americans is part of a blended family. This indicates a steady rise in the number of stepfamilies in society. But why are blended families really increasing?

What are the statistics of blended families?

Data from the 2002 Current Population Survey (CPS) shows that the traditional breadwinner-homemaker family represented only 7% of all U.S. households. This means that the conventional roles of stay-at-home mothers and sole-breadwinner fathers are largely a thing of the past. Women are no longer forced to stay in unhappy marriages due to financial dependence on their husbands, and it is estimated that one out of two first marriages ends in divorce. More people are opting to cohabitate before or instead of marriage, and many of these couples also have children. Over 75% of divorced individuals remarry, leading to more blended families.

Read More: What are Blended Families?

Are blended families the new norm?

It is estimated that 2,100 new stepfamilies are formed every day in the U.S., and that 42% of Americans have at least one immediate step-relative.

Statistics show that second or subsequent marriages have higher success rates than first marriages. It is also true that blended families generally have more challenges to overcome. And families that are more successful in overcoming the initial disagreements are more likely to survive.

In couples with children, a common cause for divorce is disagreements over childcare or parenting. In this case, remarriages into a blended family provide more control over parenting. Younger children are able to adjust to blended families more quickly and easily than older, more mature children. Partners may also be fleeing abusive or negligent behavior.

Blended families are on the rise due to the increasing divorce and separation rates, as well as the declining importance of marriage. Blended families can provide a haven of companionship, stability, and a second chance at love for many individuals.

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