Joining Two Families Together
Combining two families together into a new unit is not an easy task. Making a new family means new rules, new demands, sometimes a new cultural practice, and much more. You have to go through a lot of challenges to make sure that your home is a peaceful place where everyone loves each other.
Here are a few difficulties that may incur.
Different histories and backgrounds
Every family has their own history and their own way of doing things. So, when new families join together, there is a clash of rules and traditions. Every member now gets a different role and is expected to adjust according to their new role whether they find it comfortable or not.
Strong emotional attachments build amongst families as they live together. This emotional attachment, however, is threatened with the entrance of new family members who are to be given equal love and care. All the preexisting bonds of the current family members need to be compromised in order to comfort the new members.
Different parental stages
Spouses bring different parenting experiences with them to the new family. For example, a man or a woman who has not been a parent may find it a different experience altogether having a step son or a step daughter. It may be a good learning experience for some of these families but these differences in experience may become a reason that creates tension amongst the rest of them.
Different developmental stages
During the time when two families combine, children particularly find it very difficult to adjust. This happens especially when they are the oldest in their prior family but a new sibling, much older than them, takes their place in the new family. They find it hard to adjust to their new role, which is why they hate the idea of pulling together as a new family. They have fights and conflicts over the new rules because they want things to be done the way they were being done previously. These children are in their developmental stage and can be pretty hard to handle.
Despite of all these challenges, following are few ways a lovely and peaceful home is still attainable.
Acknowledge the challenge
Since you want everyone in your new household to get along well, it is important for you to determine how your new family unit is going to handle all the issues, such as money, childcare and discipline. Thus, you must come up with a plan as soon as possible.
It is essential to discuss a few important topics when two families combine. For example, what will the role of each parent be in facilitating the development of the children, how they are going to divide their duties regarding the children such as dropping and picking them from school, how much space will there be for the parents to do things without their children and what their long-term goals are going to be.
Step in the shoes of your children
You will not find out how your children feel unless you step in their shoes. They never got the chance to choose their new family, maybe they never wanted them. So, always show them patience and care. Help them adapt to the new situation. Talk to them if they feel lonely and sad about something. Ask them what is going on in their minds. You will only know how they feel when you talk to them and hear their point of view. So, open communication is the key.
Take out time to talk to your spouse
If you are having arguments with your spouse every now and then, it is high time you take out time to talk to them calmly and rationally. This is going to be the best way to hear each other out and reach resolutions mutually. Watching the parents shout at each other while having a conflict has a negative effect on the children. Most of them go to sleep thinking that they are the reasons why their parents are fighting.
Rather than complaining about things, tell your partner how you want things to be done. Tell them if you are not satisfied with your new role. Tell them that you feel your kids need to feel more accepted in their new household. In return, ask them what they need from you and how you can help them.
Agree on certain rules and discipline strategies for children
Talk to your spouse and discuss with them the rules you want to set for your new household and your children. They will find it harsh if he rules and punishments are changed overnight since these did not exist before the two families combined.
Try creating a bond with the children
Try taking out some time to bond with your step children. This must be a time where you interact with them alone without the involvement of your spouse. Make them feel that they are your children too. Become their protector and guardian. Take them out on dinner and tell them that they can count on you.
Support your spouse’s relationship with their child
Do not force your spouse to move away from their child. Do not put them in a position where they have to choose between you and their children. Instead, help them in nurturing the child and ask them how you can help in strengthening their relationship. Play a positive role and become their support system.
Form an unbreakable alliance – build unity
Always try and build unity within your new family. The new family members may feel like the “outgroup” since they have had to move into the other house. Make sure that they are at ease. It will be best if you consider moving into a house that is new for both the families. There will be confusions, there will be battles, but the outcome will depend on how you cope up with everything. With time, everyone will settle.
© Teresa Boardman, Nanny Options.