Blending two families into one is no small task.
Building and prioritizing a young marriage is hard enough without children, but add a couple of kids from previous marriages and you could have a recipe for hurt, misunderstanding, and power struggle.
New couples have to be really thoughtful about how to move into this challenging phase of family development. Here’s a couple of things to consider as you think about this journey.
FIRST: Start with a new family rule: We can talk about anything.
Think about what you would need to create a space that allows a full range of emotions and thought, and also inhibits judgment and promotes respect. Healthy families require this kind of space, and the reality is your children may not have experienced that kind of freedom before.
Building emotional safety is crucial to blending a family well.
It will also be important to remember that what helps kids feel safe and secure is parents who know how to care for each other well. Child-centered homes can often create children who lack confidence and a sense of security.
Be careful not to make the mistake of conveying guilty feelings about your new marriage to your children. By all means, talk about how hard it is to build a new family, but don’t communicate regret or remorse.
You’ve got to maintain strong boundaries.
SECONDLY: Take your time developing trust with your spouses children…
and don’t assume the role of authority too quickly.
Ask for respect, and even expect it, but remember that this is a confusing time for kids and you can help them through it by being an adult who “gets it” and leaves space for struggle.
I’ve heard of some men and women who have asked their spouses teenage children for their blessing to marry their mom or dad. A blessing and permission are not the same thing, but if a blessing can’t be offered, that might be a good time to start some of those “we can talk about anything” discussions.
Needless to say, you can anticipate some growing pains during this transition, and absolutely ask for help if your family blending seems stuck.
Men & Couples Therapist | MA, LMFT
I help men and their families, who are hurting, angry, and struggling to find their way through life’s challenges, to create real and lasting change.
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Cedar Tree's Mission:
There are a lot of broken families who struggle to do life well together.
That’s why we help families create an environment where deeper connection & healing can happen.