5 co-parenting tips for blended families.
A blended family forms when two people start a new life together, bringing children from previous relationships. As expected, this can be a challenging transition for everyone involved. How you handle this delicate situation can have a profound impact on the happiness of everyone. Here are five of the best co-parenting tips for blended families.
Limit the number of controllable changes
You will see the greatest chance of success in blending your family if you limit the amount of other controllable changes. Initiating too many drastic changes at once can severely limit how well your children respond to this transition. For example, waiting a longer period to remarry will yield better results than rushing into another relationship before the children have had time to process the divorce.
Moving your child into another home too soon can also lead to problems. In general, your children will deal with the changes better if there are as few disruptions to their old routine as possible. Keeping them in their current schools, encouraging them to stick with their same extracurricular activities, and supporting the development of previous relationships with friends and family members will work to mitigate the potential disruptions caused by the other changes.
Get on the same page
Despite how much you love your partner, inevitably, you will not always see eye to eye on parenting philosophies. It is better to work out these differences before bringing your two families together. You also need to get on the same page with your ex-spouse.
Before you even think about combining the two households into one, sit down and make sure that you are all in agreement with major parenting decisions. It will likely require that each of you make compromises so that everyone is satisfied with the arrangement. Having all of this in place before moving in together will make for a smoother transition. It will also help the children understand that any potential changes were not brought on by the new partner.
How to get along with the ex-wife
One of the most difficult parts of this experience is figuring out how to get along with your ex-wife or ex-husband. Dealing with the previous spouse can often be harder than incorporating new children into your life.
You need to recognize that the ex-spouse will likely only care about how the kids are doing. They will not care about the new marriage or any other family dynamics. Proving that you are always putting the best interest of the kids first will go a long way in smoothing out any potential conflicts. Once you build this trust, it will be easier to cultivate this co-parenting partnership.
Experience everyday life together
It may be tempting to try to drown your children in good times with your new partner as you embark on this journey. However, this approach can backfire when it comes time to get back to a real routine. For example, taking both sets of children on fancy vacations, day trips to the zoo, and other fun activities is not reflective of what everyday life will look like as a new family. It is also not healthy to instigate a competition with your ex-spouse.
Instead, you want to ease into this transition by incorporating plenty of real-life situations. Perhaps you want to ask your partner to take your child to the dentist or shopping for new shoes? The more that you incorporate these regular activities into your schedule, the easier it will be to jump into them on a full-time basis.
It is easy to fall into the trap of believing that your new blended family will become a modern-day Brady Bunch. Rarely does everyone blend together seamlessly with no issues.
Tempering your expectations will help you to avoid disappointment. In addition to limiting expectations within your own family unit, you also need to reign in what you expect to happen as you co-parent with your ex-spouse. Accepting that there will be conflicts and having a plan to deal with them will contribute to a better relationship between all parties.
There is always going to be a learning curve when it comes to blending two families. However, following these five tips will help to ensure a successful transition to this new season of life.