Blended Families are Complicated!

Copyright Parenting Tips with Dr. Sally

Copyright Parenting Tips with Dr. Sally

Our news comes to us today from an article Blended Families: 7 Sure-fire Tips for Long-Term Success written by Carolyn Ellis and sent to us on November 1, 2014 by Rosalind Sedacca, one of our site specialists.

Why our focus on blended families? Blended families are a reality now for more families than ever before. “One in three Americans is part of a blended family, either as a step-parent, step-child or sibling.”

Why these particular 7 cautions? They all have emotional undertones, and emotions are hard to deal with for anyone. Having said that, here is important information based on the original seven guidelines and with my extra reflections.

1. Be careful not to ask your spouse to choose between you and his children.

There’s a lot of truth to the saying that  “blood is thicker than water.” Often a step-parent experiences jealousy or feels threatened by their new partner’s children. Best is to accept that feeling and then re-direct it in as positive a way as possible. If you are a new step-mom, your husband needs time and space to love and nurture his children.

Tip: Love is an abundant natural resource, and there is always enough to go around.

Dr. Sally: While it might be hard, do what you can to make it easier for your husband to give love to his children and enjoy them. Fully loved children will be happier and more well-adjusted, and that, of course, is good for everyone.

2. Stay away from turf wars.

Some step-parents try to win favor by bending over backwards to please the children. Sometimes a step-mom, who is overly eager to be accepted by the children, inadvertently steps on the toes of the biological mother. Although well-meaning, the end result is not good. It can even set up turf wars, and nobody wants those.

Tip: Be respectful of yourself and others. You can build strong relationships with your partner’s children on your own merits by being who you are.

Dr. Sally: While it may seem that your best plan of attack is to be as much like the children’s mother as possible, it is not. As a matter of fact, best is to be yourself. Two different mothers offer two different sets of attributes, and all will benefit from the extra resources.

3. Do not suffer in silence or nurse a grudge.

Since the dynamics of a step-family are incredibly complex and have all kinds of conflicting loyalties, it is easy to get hurt feelings. In addition, it is just as easy to suffer in silence or hold a grudge. However, do not wait! Do whatever you can to stop yourself. If you want a blended family that respects, understands, and loves one another, speak up, be heard, and clear the air as soon as it begins to fog up.

Tip: Communicate, communicate, communicate.

Dr. Sally: Rely on your spouse to be your best friend. If one of his children did something or said something to you that was hurtful, share it with him openly. He is your special helper—able to intercede on your behalf in the best ways possible. Mishaps happen… and often. However, apologies hold the magic. You as the parent can either apologize or ask for one, and you won’t be sorry.

The wonderful list goes on. Here are the rest in abbreviated form.

4. Don’t take it personally.

5. Use different strokes for different folks.

6. Don’t expect to be the Brady Bunch.

7. Have a game plan.

Two ending quotes of note:

* Relationships are always works in progress and have to be built over time.

* Realize that blended families are playing in a whole new ballpark than the traditional, nuclear family. Create some agreements on the roles and responsibilities people in this new family system will have. Expect to fine-tune them on a regular basis.

Author and spiritual divorce coach, Carolyn B. Ellis, founded Thrive After Divorce, Inc. to help separated and divorced individuals improve relationships, increase self-confidence and save time and heartache. She is the award-winning author of the best-selling The 7 Pitfalls of Single Parenting: What to Avoid to Help Your Children Thrive After Divorce. To read a FREE chapter of her Parenting after Divorce 101 ebook that contains simple, life-changing tips for single parenting, visit
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Rosalind Sedacca, CCT is a relationship seminar facilitator and author of the new ebook, How Do I Tell the Kids … about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children — with Love. For her free articles, blog, valuable resources on child-centered divorce or to subscribe to her free ezine, go to:
© Rosalind Sedacca 2009. All rights reserved.

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~ Dr. Sally


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