When entering into a new blended family situation there are a few things to consider that will help with the adjustment to the new situation. Talking with family members and answering their questions can be the first place to start. Other things to consider are:
- Make sure that children have their own space as this will help them adjust to the new situation more smoothly. It is important that they feel as if they belong in the new family – whether they are just visiting or living there.
- Home rules and boundaries need to be considered and negotiated. Try to include the children in this process as much as possible as it will help them to feel some control over the situation.
- Try to include ex-partners in the discussion as well, as it is helpful for all homes to have the same rules and boundaries. For example, negotiate around what times children should go to bed, dinner routines, morning routines and the carrying out of chores.
- Parenting styles need to be transparent. It is important that you discuss how you and your partner will deal with discipline. Will you be disciplining his children? Or will you keep the boundary setting and enforcement to the biological parent?
- With older children in particular, it may be useful for the step-parent to form a relationship with the child first rather than be involved in any discipline. Avoid forming a friendship with the child as this negates any future role as disciplinarian that you may assume.
- Finances need to be discussed between the two partners. It is useful to discuss who will contribute how much and to what. Discuss how you will deal with paying for outings when all the kids are included – will you pay for each other’s children or does each person pay for themselves and their own kids?
- Lastly, it is important to identify and resolve any old wounds from past relationships. Couples often struggle when the new relationship triggers old hurts and anger. It is helpful to speak to a professional if there are any unresolved feelings from your previous relationship.