It’s that time of year again for resolutions. The New Year always comes with big bold declarations for personal achievement in the areas of physical wellbeing, career growth, development, family and spiritual life. We are all our boldest and most energetic during the New Year, always determined to right the wrongs of our past. New Year resolutions are however a lot like children, they are extremely easy and fun to make but maintenance is difficult and you really have to put in a lot of hard work, time and sacrifice.
Well, for those in blended families who vow to make this year a little less stressful here are 6 resolutions it would be beneficial to take up and work towards this year.
1. Set A Couples Date Night
You might be wondering what exactly a couples date night has to do with successful blended family life. Well….. the answer is “Everything” Couple strength is critical towards less stress in the step family situation. The couple is the center of the family and through them children will draw virtues or vices. If you are not a team, the family walls will easily crack and cave in on you, especially if you neglect the warning signs. Children also pick up on discordance very fast and often play parents against each other.
It’s important therefore to maintain your marriage outside of your kids by spending quality time together purely for relaxation and enjoyment. Try and not make the children your primary discussion. When the two of you are in sync and working together as a team the rest follow under your guidance.
2. Strive For An Effective Co-Parenting Relationship
There are no ex parents, only ex-spouses. It’s therefore extremely important to have an effective co-parenting plan for the children. Your children need you to parent them TOGETHER. They need your guidance, discipline and leadership throughout their lives so they should not be denied this right. Work out a co-parenting structure with your ex for the sake of the children and for a solid foundation, to ensure that your current or future blended family works.
That way they get to spend time with both parent, share in the love of both and more importantly receive the necessary discipline and guidance throughout their lives. It also gives a good foundation for the step parent since he/she will not be viewed as a threat to the relationship with either parent.
3. Exercise Patience
Rome was not built in a day and neither are step-families. Research has shown the average step-family takes about 7 years to finally bond, gel and have a well-structured family. You therefore need to make time your friend. When two different families come together everyone’s world changes. You bring to the table two different sets of history, structure, values, norms, cultures, religions, habits, virtues, vices etc and it is therefore expected that you will take time to find a good balance for this new family. It eventually gets better but the challenge is to take one day at a time. And most importantly – Be Patient
4. Set Apart Some Quality Family Time
Spend some time as a family and do something fun that everyone can be involved in. In fact, go a step further and make it into some form of family tradition so you start creating your own history as a blended family. Do not be too aggressive if you are in the early stages of your step situation. Spend time together with the step children but also let the bio parent spend time alone with his or her children without the step parent there. This reassures them that the new relationship doesn’t “steal” their dad or mum away. It also gives the step parent a better chance to form their own relationship with the stepchildren since they do not view them as a threat.
5. Cut Yourself Some Slack
Step parents tend to be very hard on themselves, trying so hard to create this perfect family. The truth is there is no such thing a perfect family. Every family has its own ups, downs and fair share of skeletons in their closet. The step family is no different even though the challenges differ from those of a biological family. There will be good days and there will be days you will want to pull your hair out. Parents and kids alike are bound to make mistakes since nobody is perfect. Pick your battles very wisely including those you have with yourself. Cherish the good times and learn from the bad, and one day they will all be but memories you can smile about and say “It was all worth it”
6. Learn All You Can About Step-Family Life
Finally the secret to step-family success is getting smart about step-family life. Getting smart means learning all you can about step-family dynamics, how step-families function, operate best, and why they have the unique challenges that they do. This will help you make informed decisions not just based on your emotions/feelings. Adopt the attitude of a learner.
A blessed year to you and your family!