When couples bring children from prior relationships into their new family unit, they’ve officially embarked on the blended family journey. As wonderful as it is to bring everyone together. It can prove to be quite challenging for step parenting issues as well as for children.
Moms, specifically, experience blended family life from a unique perspective. Raising young children in a blended family unit is more challenging than we’d like to admit. But an honest conversation about some challenges of step parenting and tips on how to overcome them is just what we need to keep moving forward.
Read on more rules for step parenting about how to handle the unique challenges of raising young children in a blended family.
1. It All Starts With a Healthy Relationship With Your Partner
Many children can tell you horror stories about their parent’s relationship with the step parenting moms. For example, frequent arguments, lack of affection, or domestic incidents. We state this to say that one of the biggest challenges of raising young children in a blended family is having a healthy relationship with your partner.
Children in blended families need a stable household to grow up in. Writer and counseling expert Michele Meleen furthers this point by asserting, “What can make blended families work is having two cooperative parents, who create a stable, loving environment for their children.” Simply put, you and your partner must commit to a healthy relationship that breeds collaboration and communication for the children’s sake.
You can better your relationship and love from a place of empathy and awareness by working on your emotional intelligence. Working on your emotional intelligence will also better your interactions with the children. And finally you can help your child to handle their difficult emotions.
Devry University explains that “Emotional intelligence focuses on learning how to identify and manage your own emotions while maintaining empathetic interpersonal relationships with others.” In other words, manage your emotions and gain more profound relationships with others because of it.
You can build your emotional intelligence by focusing on self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. Additionally, building your emotional intelligence will raise a perfect family home that’s full of love, support, empathy, and understanding.
2. His Parenting Style Isn’t My Parenting Style
When you have a healthy relationship with your partner, this one isn’t as explosive as it can be. Many times in a blended family, step parenting styles just simply don’t match up in the beginning. Different co-parenting partnership styles can be confusing for the kids and harmful to their growth if not promptly addressed.
You don’t want to create an environment in your home where the kids know which parent they can work to get what they want. Nor do you want the kids pitting you and your spouse against one another. So, it’s essential to get on the same page when it comes to successful step parenting support group.
Preferably, have an in-depth conversation with your partner about how each of you parents before bringing the kids into one household. Then, establish rules for how you’re going to work together when making decisions about the children. For example, if you think the children should be leading a healthier lifestyle, how do you converse with your spouse to make an ultimate decision?
3. How Do We Approach Discipline?
A specific aspect of co-parenting styles that most blended families struggle with is discipline. Are you the mom who takes everything out of the room except the mattress and bookcase? Does your partner shy away from discipline altogether?
Having opposite approaches to discipline can be harmful to a cohesive blended family unit because you’ll be unable to present a united front at a time you really need it. When it comes to discipline, your kids must know that you and your spouse are a team that won’t break.
It’s okay to have different approaches to discipline. For example, your strategy may be better when the kids are fighting, while your partner’s method may be better used when they get in trouble outside of the home. Ultimately, you want to ensure you and your spouse support each other when handing out consequences.
4. Let’s Talk About Race and Cultural Differences
Different step parenting tips and approaches to discipline are one thing. But what if you’re in a relationship with someone of a completely different race and/or culture than you? Are you prepared to have a productive conversation about race and cultural differences with the children?
As an adult, your mind is a bit more prepared to grasp the intricacies of being in an interracial relationship. With that being said, it’s up to you and your partner to explain race, ethnicity, and culture in the most appropriate ways to your children.
An open conversation about race and culture helps them treat everyone with respect inside and outside your home. This conversation also allows them to see the wonderfulness of a diverse world, including your relationship.
So, when you notice the kids are aware of racial and cultural differences, sit down with them and open up a dialogue about their experience. Then, share your experiences as well. Also, ensure you’re having multiple conversations about culture and race to ensure your supporting experiences in all stages of their lives.
5. Everyone Learns Differently
Cultural and racial differences also contribute to the way a child learns. And when you’re blending families with different backgrounds, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll have multiple learning and communication styles in one household.
Language, communication, and learning barriers can be some of the biggest challenges present when raising young children in a blended family. If you’re unable to communicate with the children for their emotional wellbeing and help them to learn, your relationship will struggle.
First, appreciate the fact that you have a household of children with unique backgrounds, special talents, individual learning styles, and so forth. Each of your children is different. So, consider this when you’re helping them with homework, teaching them a new skill, or trying to understand their actions.
6. Take Advantage of the Little Moments
As you intentionally study each kid’s learning and communication styles, you should also see what you can learn in the little moments you have with each child. In seizing the little moments with each child, you learn just as much as the intentional study.
For example, do you remember the early times of getting to know your partner’s children? Specifically, the silent car rides, awkward exchanges, and short conversations? Well, when you look at your conversations and interactions now, you’re probably in awe.
The trust you built to open the door for better conversations didn’t happen overnight. But, when you think about it, you built that trust by asking one more question, by spending one more day together, and by intently listening to one more response.
You’d be wise to take advantage of little moments like these all the time. Take advantage of the times your spouse steps out to pump gas. Watch one more episode of their favorite TV show, even though it’s past bedtime. Hope on that video game even if you have no idea what you’re doing, and so on.
7. Create a Safe Space for Conversation
When you take advantage of little moments like the ones above, you’re also creating a safe space for conversation. There’s nothing more defeating as a mom than your children feeling like they can’t come to you.
It’s pretty tricky to build the trust it takes to incite open communication with teen and children that aren’t biologically yours. But you want to take on this challenge to ensure the kids feel safe enough with you to talk not only about their successes but their fears.
For example, there’s going to be some long-distance parenting involved in your blended family. You could have primary custody of your children and live a considerable distance away from the other biological parent. Or maybe your husband has shared custody of his kids with his ex-wife. Maintain a consistent schedule and use various channels, such as phone calls and video conferencing, to stay in touch with your kids.
Whatever the family dynamic is, the children are being affected by it. While one of the kids may be getting along okay, the others may be struggling to cope with the new arrangement. So, when they’re with their other parent, ensure the children feel supported and loved with your step parenting advice even when you aren’t physically with them. You want them to know that no matter where they are if they need you, you’re there.
To move forward with creating a safe space for conversation, keep spending family and individual time with the children. Show an interest in who they are and what they’re interested in to develop a deeper bond. With time, that safe space will naturally open up.
8. Bonding Takes Time
As step parenting guide create a safe space for conversation will take time, along with everything else. So the last unique challenge of raising young children in a blended family bonding is being okay with the fact that it will take time to develop a bond.
It’s easy to say that you understand it will take time to build a bond with the children that aren’t biologically yours. But what’s hard is being three years in and still getting the silent treatment. Or being the victim of another “you’re not my mom!” Or how about still having that nervous feeling when you all get together when you honestly feel you shouldn’t.
When something happens to push that timeline even further back, that’s when you dig in. Find new ways to connect with the kids. Show an even more profound interest in the things they’re passionate about. And most importantly, never give up.
Raising young children in a blended family is no easy feat. You must be patient, supportive, intentional, authentic, and loving in your approach. Use the above advice to build beautiful relationships with the children in your blended family.