Family traditions and routines that are unfamiliar to others in a stepfamily may cause stress. If this stress is handled well, the chances for a happy family relationship is greater. The following list provides some ideas that can help you when building your stepfamily.
- Keep your marriage strong. Remember that what began this family was a caring relationship. It is very important to nurture and care for the husband and wife relationship. The stronger your marriage is, the better you will be able to face the challenges of the new family.
- Agree on a type of discipline. Strong agreement on limit setting and discipline for the children should be discussed long before the wedding. Usually the approach for discipline is a combination of both parents' views. It should be an approach both parents can live with and agree to follow consistently.
- Act consistently. If at first you are extra generous or lenient with your stepchildren, you will set a pattern that the child will expect to continue. If that pattern suddenly changes when the newness wears off, it will cause problems.
- Start new traditions. One way to build a stronger family relationship is to begin new traditions. Certainly some traditions will be kept from each family, but new ones will give meaning and permanence to this new unit. Because children may be spending traditional holidays with another parent, make new traditions for other events.
- Have weekly meetings. A weekly meeting will help your family talk to each other and make family goals. Make meeting rules and figure out a way in which all family members can freely express themselves in these meetings.
- Find support. Locate a support group in your area. You can learn how other families are addressing some of the challenges of blended families.
- Spend time every day with your child. Try to spend at least one "quiet time" period with your child daily. This is a chance to touch base during a busy schedule. It can also be calming and reassuring.
- Seek help when you need it. Health care providers or mental health professionals can help if serious problems develop. They can also answer questions you may have about blending a family.