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10 tips to help blended families
Remarrying with children often creates a complex dynamic. Expectations may not be clear and people aren’t sure how to behave. Ex-spouses and their new spouse impact what happens in your household. Is it any surprise that all of this creates stress and conflict in relationships?
Believe it or not, transitioning into a stepfamily requires some prep work. If you are embarking on this journey, Deal’s recommendations can help you out.
- Nurture your marriage and learn to communicate well. According to a study of more than 50,000 stepfamily couples, maintaining fun in marriage is the number five predictor of a high-quality stepcouple relationship. Good communication and conflict resolution skills were the number two and three predictors of successful remarriages.
- Keep perspective. This is new for everyone, so expect to feel lost. Seek understanding and don’t force people to blend, because it takes time. It may even take years for your family to really unite, but it’s better than causing a lot of frustration by moving too quickly. Be patient with the process and have a “slow-cooker” mentality.
- Talk with others. Before you begin, you might want to educate yourself about stepfamily living. Also, ask other stepfamilies about their experiences and the things that caught them by surprise. Find out how they handled the early days.
- Help the kids. When appropriate, encourage biological parents to consistently spend one-on-one time with each child. Since this is also foreign territory for children, prepare them to expect a variety of feelings and encourage them to talk about it. Discuss what to call one another (e.g., stepdad or “George”) and decide how to introduce one another in public. Understand that kids may have different names/terms for stepfamily members depending on who’s in the room. For example, they may call a stepfather “Daddy” unless their biological dad is physically present until relationships stabilize. Don’t pressure kids to use labels that make you comfortable; try to follow their lead.
- Traditions matter. For sure, keep some old ones (for the kids), but also create a new one in your first year. If you want to help form the missing family identity in your home, put intentional thought and effort into creating that new family tradition. Traditions tell us who we are and where we belong.
5 tips for raising good kids
Any parent headed home with their first child is probably a bit nervous about this whole parenthood thing. You really want to raise good kids, but unfortunately, each unique baby doesn’t come with its own manual.
Whether you shop local or go to Amazon for parenting help, hundreds of books offer different perspectives on the best way to raise good children. In spite of the many approaches, however, a group of Harvard psychologists found that it really boils down to some very basic strategies.
1. Spend time with your children.
2. Model the behavior you want to see.
3. Show your child how to care for others and set high ethical expectations.
4. Teach your child to be appreciative and grateful.
5. Teach them how to see beyond themselves.
The children in the Harvard study thought their own happiness and self-esteem was really important to their parents. Instead of being overly concerned that kids are always happy, you can emphasize how to be kind to others in their world, whether it’s the bus driver, the Walmart greeter or the referee at the sports event. Focusing on these things will help you raise children who are caring, kind, courageous and responsible.