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Strategies to Improve Relationships in Your Blended Family

When your first relationship falls apart, the transition to going it alone can be daunting, especially when there are kids involved. Now, you’ve met your perfect mate, and you’re looking forward to a happy future, but there are more than two people in this relationship. Whether you have kids, your partner has kids, or you’re both bringing kids into the new fold, blending the new family can have its challenges.

At Southlake Counseling, Kimberly Krueger and our team of qualified and experienced mental health experts specialize in family counseling, including the often tricky dynamics that come with bringing two families together.

To help smooth the transition to one happy family, here are a few tips to consider.

Start with a solid relationship

If you’re blending a family, it’s important that the two people who are making the decision to come together have a solid foundation. Relationships and marriages without kids already take work to ensure that the needs on both sides are being met. Now, add the needs of the children who aren’t involved in your relationship, and you’ll see how you can get pulled in several different directions.

While there may be no avoiding a few problems when blending a family, it certainly helps if the foundational relationship of this new unit is solid.

Set some parenting ground rules beforehand

Another important step to take with your new partner is to discuss parenting before you blend your families. While no two parents have the same exact approach to dealing with children, it’s helpful if there’s a basic framework. For example, lying may be a punishable offense in your book, but your partner may feel that lying is no big deal. Be sure to discuss these scenarios beforehand so that you provide a united front.

Be patient and open

Once you blend your families, show the kids that you’re willing to give them time to adjust instead of instantly forcing everyone into a smiling family photo. Encourage them to talk openly about their concerns and then practice some patience as they try to work them out. Of course, there are limits, and you should take action if a problem goes on too long.

Avoid the “either/or”

Every member of a blended family almost always goes through a stage where they’re trying to figure out where they fit in. Your own child may test you, or you may feel tested by your partner’s children with either-or situations (choose me or lose me). It’s important to shut down this type of approach and encourage one that emphasizes inclusion over exclusion.

It’s all about respect

One of the most important steps toward building a successful blended family is to encourage respect. Family members may disagree, get angry, and become frustrated, but as long as there is respect, these problems can be resolved. Respect means creating boundaries and emphasizing civility above all else.

Get help

If you’re having trouble blending your family, we encourage you to turn to our family counseling services. Our therapists understand the unique dynamics that come with a blended family and we’re here to guide everyone to a place of better understanding and cooperation.

To learn more about successful family blending, contact one of our two offices in Davidson or Charlotte, North Carolina.

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