From Pam Rohr, author of Blended but not Broken – Hope and Encouragement for Blended Families:
The wedding day has come and gone, the honeymoon (if you were blessed enough to enjoy one) is over…
So now what?
You’ve brought your two families together and you’re all living under one roof. It’s exciting, but it can also be a sad time, especially for the kids. Their dreams of seeing their parents reunite has been dashed by your new marriage. And if you’ve not been included much in your stepkids’ lives, you’re virtually strangers now living under the same roof.
But you’re so googly-eyed in love with your new spouse, you just know that everything will work out wonderfully. You are enjoying the “Dream Stage” of the blending of your stepfamily.
But soon, reality sets in.
Oh my! What have we done?! His child is so hard to be around and yours is pushing the limits. The kids liked hanging out before the marriage, but now it seems that they can’t stand each other. And doesn’t your spouse see his children’s disrespect toward you? And why doesn’t he do more about it?
You asked his child to take out the trash the other day and were told, quite curtly, “You’re not my mom. I don’t have to do what you say.”
Reality is in your face. Stepfamilies just don’t work the same way as first families.
So, you have a choice: Get angry and join the insane fray, or begin to rally and learn how to walk out your new role and help your family members learn and walk out their new roles.
This requires a lot of selfless love and more time and effort than you had anticipated.
But it’s worth it!
One tool you can use to rally your family is to begin having regular “Family Meetings”. In these meetings, you set communication guidelines and offer open moments for everyone to respectfully “get things off their chest”. But they must not attack one another. Instead, each person must express what they think and what they feel about what is or isn’t going on in the family.
Often, it’s good for the parents to share first and set the tone and guidelines for how the meeting should progress.
So, why are meetings important? Firstly, they provide opportunities for the family to bond. Secondly, they teach life skills of effective communication and compromise. Third, they give each person a voice into how the household will be run. Lastly, they help everything run more smoothly by putting everyone’s schedules, events and priorities on the table for everyone to recognize.
After everyone has had a chance to share their thoughts, ALLOW PLENTY OF TIME TO HAVE FUN!! Talk about future plans and dreams, enjoy a dessert together or play games.
Before you know it, you’ll find everyone bonding together as you had hoped. Younger children will typically take to it easier than teens, as adolescents typically tend to break away from the family no matter what the household situation may be. So, flexibility with your teenagers will probably be very necessary.
Respect is paramount in these meetings and it begins and ends with Mom and Dad respecting each other and each of the kids as well.
Proverbs 16:3 says –
Commit to the Lord whatever you do,
and your plans will succeed.
So, you should begin each meeting with prayer and commit that time to the Lord.
For more tips on how to successfully blend your stepfamily, visit www.nouveaulifecoaching.com.
And, for more encouraging and engaging podcasts and videos, visit the E-Squared Media Network at www.e2medianetwork.com