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Tips for Making Your Blended Family Work

Blended FamiliesWhen it comes to the American family, one sociologist says “different is the new normal.”

For the first time in U.S. history, there is no one dominant family form. Most people grew up watching the stereotypical two-parent household on television, but studies show this type of family unit is no longer representative of what families look like in modern America.

In fact, just 22 percent of children today are being raised in a household with two married, biological parents.

As divorce rates have climbed steadily since the 1950s, blended families have become increasingly common.

In 2011, four in 10 Americans reported being part of a step family. If you have remarried, you may worry how your children will adjust to being part of a blended family.

As Miami divorce lawyers, we see families of all shapes and sizes. Fortunately, when families truly care about each other, they usually find ways to thrive.

Helpful Tips for Blended Families

According to Parents magazine, there are several tips for blended families can do to build lasting bonds and make the transition easier for their kids.

  • Don’t set impossibly high standards: One clinical psychologist reminds parents in blended families that no family – biological or blended – is perfect. Parenting is a tough job whether you’re in a traditional or non-traditional family.Any blended family will go through an adjustment period. By having a positive attitude about any bumps in the road, parents in blended families can make these “growing pains” more bearable.
  • Accept the reality and likelihood of conflict: Psychologist Patricia Paper now likens blended families to a fruit salad rather than a smoothie.
    Instead of trying to make everyone homogeneous, she encourages blended families to acknowledge and celebrate everyone’s differences. Not everyone will mix perfectly all the time, which is totally normal.
  • Communicate: Experts say it’s important for parents in blended families to set clear expectations for respect and considerate behavior, especially when children must learn to live with a new step sibling. Step siblings may not love each other right away, but they should still treat each other with kindness and empathy.
  • Make time for each child: Just because you’re part of a blended family doesn’t mean you can’t take time out to focus on your own child.
    It’s also important for stepparents to spend time with their stepchildren outside of the biological parent’s presence. This one-on-one time can help build trust and a deeper relationship.
  • Encourage bonds: Building any new relationship takes time, but parents in blended families can gently encourage their kids to spend time with stepparents and step siblings.
    Shared experiences, such as a holiday celebration, movie night, or a dinner at a restaurant, allow kids to open up and relax around new family members.
  • Get help when you need it: Sometimes, it takes a third party to see problems and pinch points that insiders overlook. Working with a counselor or family therapist can help parents in blended families identify areas that could use extra attention.
    Seeking the support and advice of a therapist also teaches kids that it’s okay to ask for help when you need it.
  • Don’t ignore your child’s other parent: Just because you have moved on with your life doesn’t mean you can afford to turn your child away from his or her other parent. Studies agree that kids benefit the most when they have frequent contact with both parents.

Being a parent is a tough job and arguably the most challenging role you will ever take on. When you are also trying to make a new marriage work, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the stress that comes with transitioning into a blended family. With some effort, however, you can make it work.

Work with a Family Lawyer Miami

Life is constantly changing. If you’re a parent, you know that kids grow quickly. Part of being in a blended family is cooperating with your child’s other biological parent, even when it’s sometimes tough to get along.

As your children get older, you may need to change your parenting agreement with your ex-spouse. Be proactive by talking to a family lawyer Miami about your case before conflicts develop.

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