Tips for navigating a new family dynamic.

The family dynamic has changed drastically over the past seven decades. In the 1960s, it was the norm for children to be born into a two parent/first marriage household. According to Pew Research, the number of traditional families dropped in the 1980 to about 61%. Today, that number is less than half. Typical families of the new millennium are a vast mixture of anything but traditional. One of the most common family types is the blended family. Blended families are family units where one or both parents have children from previous relationships, and they decide to bring their two families together to form unit.

Although making the decision to blend two families can be a wonderful experience, it does come with its share of obstacles. It’s not to say that blended families can’t work, but it is a delicate situation that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Forbes reported that there is a 74% failure rate for second marriages due to the stressors that many blended families face. Though every family is different, there are some basic things that every blended family can take into consideration when figuring out what works best for them. Here are tips for approaching the blended family dynamic:

  •  Control your words and actions. We can’t change how others act, but we can control how we react to their words and actions. If disagreements occur with an ex, refrain from fighting or arguing in front of the children. Try getting all the adults together to have a cordial one-on-one about any issues that may exist and how everyone can come together on one page for the children. At the end of the day, the happiness and health of the children involved is a top priority. You all should make the best decisions that positively impact your family dynamic.
  • Help children become comfortable with the changes in their own time and way. When mom or dad begins to date again, that alone can be a huge change for children. So, imagine what a new marriage can feel like for them. Change is hard sometimes for adults to grasp and children are no different. Among other things, they may feel a sense of loyalty to their parents. As the stepparent/bonus parent, it’s important to build a rapport with the children, but remember to let them set the pace. Parents should encourage bonding with bonus moms and dads, but they should never force these changes on the children. Give them the time they need to adjust to their new dynamics.
  • Set and respect boundaries. One key thing to remember when forming a blended family is that these two families had their own way of life before taking the leap to merge with one another. There was a code and culture already in place which should be respected. Though things will change to accommodate the new family unit, some things may remain the same.
  • Check your own heart and mind before committing to a blended family. Forming a blended family can be beautiful, but it is important to remember that there are children and feelings all through the fabric of the blended family. Before you commit to anything, you should make sure that you are in a mature place mentally and emotionally for the children’s sake.