The Melting Pot – Preparing to live as a blended family
By Teresa Lusk –
Before adding your loved ones into the melting pot of a blended family, consider the following suggestions: Boundaries and expectations of how your blended family will work should be established. Even biological families struggle to get along, so don’t expect a new step-parent/child relationship to be successful immediately.
If the children are old enough, talk to them about the upcoming living situation and what that means to all. Ask the child how they feel and what their expectations are. If they’re not thrilled about your decision, find out why. Don’t allow anger to arise if you don’t like the response. Kids have a right to their feelings. Ask what they think it will be like? Reassure them no one will replace mom or dad. Do advice them that you have chosen this person and expect respect toward the step-parent.
Be sensitive to the children because they have lost the home they knew, a family unity they loved or maybe they lost a parent through death. Though there may have been chaos in the prior marriage, most kids prefer familiarity. If the child is dealing with the loss of one parent, they may be afraid of loosing the other and therefore opposed to the new spouse.
Next, agree with the step-parent what their role will be once you settle into the home. Have them hold off on an authoritative role until trust and a relationship are built with the child. Once established, agree as a couple if the step-parent can demand time-out, spankings, or other discipline? If the child is disrespectful to the step-parent how will it be handled by the parents? Will the biological parent deal with it right then or in privacy with the child?
Discuss difficult matters that could arise in the future like children facing drug issues, crime, depression, and teen sex. No one wants to prepare for the worst but when a step-parent is prepared, they’re likely to have a greater tolerance of future challenges.
Parents shouldn’t pick between the children and new spouse but may feel disloyal to both. If the new spouse and kids can’t manage then it is the parent’s responsibility to create a schedule and spend time with everyone individually and equally. Doing this early on may set you up for success. Also, it will remind them all that you love them and they can trust you to be there even if you are rebuilding your life.
To paraphrase Ephesians 6:10 – Remember, no matter how blended you become, your strength comes from the Lord.
Bio: Teresa G. Lusk is as a Motivational Speaker, author of Good Enough to be a Homemaker and CEO, and has a Bachelor in Psychology, Religion, and Christian Counseling. In 2007 she founded Homemaker CEO, a women’s organization. Visit www.teresalusk.com or www.homemakerceo.com