“Can’t we just all get along?”
Perhaps that question crossed your mind more than once after you and your new mate brought your two families together.
Perhaps you never expected all the problems you’ve run into ever since that day.
Why does it seem so difficult to get everyone on the same page in a blended family?
Can you make it easier? How?
Ways You Can Help the Members of Your Blended Family Cooperate
Getting along with each other is important when you want to create a happy home for your blended family. How can you overcome the conflicts that inevitably arise and encourage family unity?
Consider these 7 ways:
1. Don’t be overzealous to have everyone get along
Patience will keep you from forcing your blended family together. You may be very eager to have one big happy family, but pushing any family member to accept and integrate themselves into the new situation before they’re ready is the wrong way to achieve that. Allow everyone the space to feel things out for themselves and let connections develop naturally.
2. Involve everyone in the blending process
Don’t just tell your family members what will happen and how things will change. Allow them to be part of that change and have a voice when decisions are made. Discuss the arrangements you want to make, listen to everyone’s opinion, and encourage them to suggest solutions. Be open and honest about everything that happens to help all feel secure with the new family structure.
3. Provide opportunities for all to get to know each other
That doesn’t mean you have to arrange all sorts of extravagant outings. The best way to spend time together and encourage unity is just through everyday situations. Eat together, cook together, work in the yard together, or go out for some ice cream. It doesn’t have to be anything super special. Doing chores together can draw you all much closer. Everyone gets to feel that they contributed to their blended family becoming a team.
4. Foster respect for everyone’s role in the family
A blended family works the best when both adults receive the respect they’re due as household leaders. But that doesn’t mean a stepparent should be too eager to discipline their stepchildren right away.
Ease into your new role. After all, respect is earned. That goes for both the parents and the children. When you show respect to each other and your children, you foster an environment where respect can grow.
5. Offer support and understanding to all
It’s not easy for anyone—adult or child—to feel like an outsider in a blended family. Therefore, make sure that everybody feels supported. Don’t let your new spouse feel like you’re putting your biological children above them. Don’t let the children think that you care about them less than your new mate. Make a special effort to give extra support to those children that may be living in two separate households. They need understanding, care, and empathy.
6. Deal with emerging conflicts creatively
Living in a newly blended family is stressful for all. The question is not if conflict will arise, but when. And what you will do about it then. Provide everyone the opportunity to be heard when there are problems. Instead of proposing solutions, let the parties involved come up with their own ideas for how to handle matters. To keep things running smooth overall, consider the use of a suggestion box and regular family meetings. Don’t play referee, be a mediator.
7. Don’t shut out extended biological family
Certainly, it’s not in your best interest to speak disparagingly about your former spouse. They are, after all, your children’s other parent. But the same also goes for extended biological family—their grandparents, cousins, uncles, aunts, and so forth from that parent’s side. Hindering those connections (unless there is a very valid reason) can obstruct your blended family from becoming a unit. How can a child accept a new arrangement when it forces them to leave loved ones behind?
Successfully blending a blended family isn’t an easy task but it’s highly rewarding when you begin to see all family members pull together. Still, learning to get along takes time. Be prepared to invest however much time is needed. It’ll be the best investment you can make.