5 tips to make blended families work

Last year Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) published the latest divorce statistics based on 21 998 completed divorce forms they had received. The number indicates an increase of approximately five percent from the 20 980 cases processed in 2011.

There is life after divorce. Having survived a painful divorce, you managed to find a new loving relationship. But there are children involved from both sides and now all of a sudden you are a step mom or step dad. How then do you make the blended family work?

5 Tips to help blended family work and live happily together

1. Roles needs to be redefined.
Both parents need to be clear as to who does what. Children need to know who they listen to and who they take instructions from. “Am I listening to my natural parent or do I also listen to my step parent”?

2. Establish a new identity for the new family.
Introduce the kids to each other and let them relate to each other. Set boundaries beforehand. Children are very powerful and they can sink your new relationship.

3. Communicate.
There’s a need for enormous clarity and this means talking about everything. Have a discussion where there is no argument.

4. Guard against high expectations.
Don’t assume you’ll be welcomed and called mommy or daddy.

5. Seek help.
Get support, therapy or some kind of intervention on how to deal with your new challenging situation.

Listeners sharing their experiences in blended families:

Andrew in East Rand has two children from his previous marriage. And after his wife died he married a widow with two children. He says his wife’s eldest son (21) is refusing to do chores and he wants to come home after curfew. He recently threatened to stop paying for his university fees if he doesn’t stop being disrespectful.

Tina in Lonehill has been part of a blended family for the past four years. Tina says it works well for her and her husband. She says the respect her and her husband have for each other has rubbed off to the children. Tina has three children and her husband has a son from his previous marriage.

It is wonderful if you are explorative. If you have a lot of tolerance, go for it…… Be flexible, tolerant and supportive as possible.

Dr Helgo Schomer

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