As a single mom dating a man with kids, I have to say, the Brady Bunch gave me a totally unrealistic idea of how blended families should function. The reality of bringing two families together into one is much, much different than Carol and Mike made it out to be! Then again, real life is never as rosy as a sitcom. Blended families can work- very well in fact- it just takes work to make it work!
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Blended Families: How to Make it Work
- Don’t Force It. The most important step in creating harmony in blended families: don’t try too hard. It’s tempting to throw the kids together and try to get them to make instant friends, especially if they’re close in age. The problem is, they may be into completely different things and feel like they have nothing in common. Give them time to discover common interests and become friends on their own.
- Give everyone space (literally). While giving each child their own room is ideal, if you’ve just combined two larger families into one home, it may be impossible. If they have to share rooms, try to set them up so each child has his or her own space. You can accomplish this with curtains or room dividers. Room too small for that? Give each child a designated “personal space” in the home, along with a sign that lets others know “this is MY personal time.”
- Blend traditions, don’t replace them. If you and your son always had blueberry crepes on Sunday mornings but your new hubby and his daughter preferred omelets, make both. If you always decorate your Christmas tree on Black Friday but new hubby does it on Christmas Eve, put up two trees, at least until everyone is used to each other. Once your blended families have settled together, then you can start coming up with new traditions. Just don’t try to replace the ones that are dearest to your kids.
- Don’t take sides. As a single mom of an only child, this is the hardest thing about having blended families for me. It’s instinct for me to take my son’s side and him to take his son’s in a fight between the two. This has caused major fights between us that last long after the kids make up. TRY to remain neutral, even when you “KNOW” your child is in the right. If you’re a parent of more than one child, you likely already have this down pat, just make sure you apply that same Switzerland neutrality to your significant other’s children. Unless someone is bleeding or hysterically crying, try not to get involved.
- Take a cue from Frozen and Let it go. This goes along with the tip about not taking sides. If you get into a fight with your significant other about something between the kids, you have to let it go once the kids do. My friend once told me something when our kids were arguing that I’ve lived by ever since: Kids get over the fight in five minutes yet parents create wars that span generations arguing about which child was in the right. If your kids are over it, let it go. There will be new battles to fight tomorrow.
While the tips above are all helpful, my absolute best tip for making blended families work is to take it slow. Obviously, you’re not going to move in together after meeting each other five minutes ago. When you have kids to consider, though, you have to go slower than you may have in your single years. Sal and I have been together for three years and we still don’t live in the same house. Finding harmony in blended families isn’t something that happens overnight (unless you’re super lucky), but it is possible. Like I said, it takes work to make it work.
Do you have any tips for making blended families work easier? Leave them in the comments!
30 thoughts on “Tips for Creating Harmony in Blended Families”
We have a blended family and these are some really great tips! I love the idea of blending family traditions and not replacing them.
Sound advice. I’m fortunate to have my same parents, grandparents and my hubby and i have been married for 15 years. It’s hard enough taking two sets of parents, with blended families there are so many other dynamics to consider. Best wishes and keep up the great work – love your blog!
This is all excellent advice. When my husband and I went through it our kids were 16, 18 and 20. You would think it would be easier at that age, but oh my goodness! It was rough for several years!! And yes – he and I were just as much at fault for all the drama.
I don’t have a blended family but my sister-n-law dose and I know how hard it can be at times. I will have to pass this along to her in hopes of helping.
I personally things like this would take their own time but it is definitely workable.
It is really hard to work with a blended family. I think keeping the relationship in mind and the treatment of the kids fair worked well for me.
great tips. It can be hard on the kids for sure, especially same gender and closer in age.
Great tips for blended families. I will pass this on to my son, because he’s in a relationship with someone that has two children and he has one. I think he would really like the suggestions.
Great tips, I have a few friends that have a blended family. It would be tough at first I imagine.
I’m not in a blended family but you have shared some great tips for those who are, I’m sure they will find them helpful.
My family [in laws side] are going through the bleeding of families and it’s so hard at times for them, especially with the grudges part.
Hubs and I are a 2nd marriage from both of us. I can’t have children of my own, but he has a (almost) 10 year-old daughter. I have been with her since she was 3. We have very different parenting styles, and we do argue about it from time to time, however its all solvable.
lol on the parents holding the grudge. That’s so silly, but so true! I’ve got that on my in-laws’ side of the fam. One mom doesn’t like the aunts who reprimanded her daughter when she was in grade school. The daughter is 45 yrs old now, lolol
I like the idea of blending traditions – that makes much more sense and keeps everyone happy.
It is certainly a challenge for some! I love some of these tips and space is important.
Great tips. I especially like the focus on giving space. It is hard to live with the family you are used to sometimes. Cramping together would be a tough transition.
What great tips and I know this will help those that are trying to create harmony with blended families. I tried to make our blended family work but I failed, I’m sorry to say. 2 out of 3 of his kids were bipolar and I didn’t know how to deal with the manic & depressive sides of this and they would throw things at me and go nuts and I was too young to know what to do or how to deal with their issues. We get along much better now that the kids are all grown and we are divorced :).
These are the same things I follow! Never taking sides is a principle for us.
The more the merrier! It’s great for everyone to try out some new family activities, recipes and traditions.
Blending families can be so incredibly hard. We have done it but not without our fails!
Having enough space to avoid each other sometimes is necessary for all families! I find it really helps defuse situations if you just get away from it for a while.
This is wonderful. I guess I’m classified as a blended family. My first who I had at 18 was 2 when my hubby entered the picture so this is great to know. I know quite a few people who will benefit from this article!
I don’t have a blended family but these are some great tips for those who do as I know what a difficult but also beautiful transition it really is!
I don’t have a blended family but these are great tips for those who do. Giving individuals space is so important.
I don’t have a blended family, but I think if everyone tries hard to respect each others’ wishes and traditions, it should work out. Although I realize it is not always easy.
Great tips! Every family is different; you have to do what works for your family!
Love the cue from Frozen, LOL!! Honestly though, these are great tips. I know many who have a blended family and usually, everything just works itself out.
I think these are all great tips for any blended family. They can even be great for relationships or marriages- I know my husband and I have different traditions, so we have had to work to find a happy medium that works for both of us.
We are a blended religious family, and we do not force anything.. we really make the best out of all situations.
We are a blended family and make it all work. It’s pretty easy with minimal effort.