Tips for Helping Your "Blended Family" Blend Better

Outside of the land of television and movies, so-called “blended families” face tremendous challenges. Whereas Hollywood can help their “make-believe” families “blend” rather nicely, real life isn’t always so kind.

When a couple remarries and there are children involved, it’s crucial for this new family unit to really feel like a family. In Resolving Conflict in the Blended Family by Tom and Adrienne Frydenger, the authors suggest that one of the most effective ways for creating that sense of family is the “team building” concept.

Here’s how it works –

1. A team builder values other people. If there are step-children in the home who feel their opinions don’t matter, they’ll be less likely to want to be a part of this new blended family unit.
2. A team builder isn’t quick to judge the opinions of others. They know that these differences aren’t necessarily right or wrong – just different.
3. A team builder views these differences as opportunities for growth. They provide a healthy variety of thought for creative decision-making. They’re also good starting points for conflict resolution – a must in the blended family!
4. A team builder is able to identify his own goals and interests. Nothing will sink a blended family faster than irrational thinking on the part of either or both spouses.
5. A team builder wants to involve all conflicting parties in the resolution process. Ever tried planning a “blended family vacation?” It’s an exercise in “conflict resolution” at its best. Better to get all opinions, gripes, scheduling issues, etc on the table early in the process.
6. A team builder is willing to co-operate. The blended family is not a dictatorship. Leading by example is always the best way to raise children anyway.
7. A team builder is willing to accept uncomfortable momentary circumstances in order to build a good working relationship. Shouldn’t we all! But this is especially true in the case of the blended family. It may take longer to accomplish a “family goal” . . . but in the end, it’s worth it!
8. A team builder recognizes the value of trustworthiness. All children are naturally suspect of blended families initially. That means, Mom and Dad, your credibility is being graded on a much tougher scale the second time around. Be trustworthy – and be willing to trust your children and stepchildren. Don’t make earning your trust too difficult for them.
9. A team builder does not coerce or manipulate. Rational persuasion goes much further than step-parent force any day.
10. A team builder will commit to the consensus of the group. The only way for a blended family to really “blend” is if each member buys into the concept that this is, in fact, a family now. Especially in this case, the whole is not greater than the sum of the parts.

Team building is a great concept to use to help your blended family “blend.”

Author: Jim Burns, Ph.D.
(Excerpted from the book, Resolving Conflict in the Blended Family by Tom and Adrienne Frydenger.)

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