5 Tips for Blended Families

Posted on Sat 07/20/13 in Working Parents

“You hear a lot of dialogue on the death of the American family. Families aren’t dying. They’re merging into big conglomerates.” – Erma Bombeck

In full disclosure, we are a blended family. Sonny Boy is Mike’s son. I don’t want to offend his BM (biological mom) and I don’t want to mislead any of my readers. Also in full disclosure, for the safety of our Little Man, I’ll be referring to him throughout this blog as “Sonny Boy” or other various nicknames; there’s just no need to shout out his name and age for the world. You know what I mean?

Here are some of the concerns in our blended household:

1. Consistency is Key

In our household, DF & I try to keep things consistent for Sonny Boy. It’s important that when he’s here he knows what to expect and that things are stable. They (children) seek that out, and crave it. We think this is the most important tip, at least IMHO.

2. Boundaries with biological parent

It’s hard for me as a FSM because I have no desires to cross the boundaries and step-in over Sonny Boy’s BM. I respect her, and there’s room for both of us in Sonny Boy’s life. To do this, I work hard to keep interactions with her to a minimum – I don’t want to flaunt our family in her face, or incite spitefulness and resentment.

Life is better when Sonny Boy has two happy families.

Therefore—- I let DF do all the talking with her, and as hard as it is to do I let him handle things his way with her. I mean, let’s face it, he knows her and how she’ll react the best of the two of us. I keep interactions with her to a minimum; not because I don’t respect her, but rather because I want to be sure I don’t give her a reason to be bitter and make things more difficult for everybody.

3. Don’t be The Bad Guy

We verbally agreed never to talk about BM in front of the Boy. We’ve talked about this together, and decided it’s the best practice. Our boy will not respect the things we say if we choose to speak negatively about his BM. I remember as a kid being torn over the idea of having to choose sides. We (my brother and I) told them we weren’t going to, and from that moment on we never had to. The lesson I took away from my parent’s relationship was that they could be friends as grown-ups. That wasn’t true, but because of the way they presented themselves in front of us, we never knew otherwise.

We do all our discussions revolving around BM behind closed doors. The feeling of resentment can build up so fast in children, and I don’t want Sonny Boy harboring those feelings towards me, because I’m talking badly about someone he loves with all his heart. He’s a child; he’s going to be loyal to her. And that’s how it should be.

4. Remember: Security Equals Love

Setting limits and boundaries are crucial to our success as a blended family. When things are new and/or emotionally taxing for children (and every day can be emotionally taxing for children), having limits and boundaries is what they need to feel secure. A lot of times we notice Sonny Boy pushes against the boundaries—- just so that he can make sure they are still there.

This is hard for me to do because I want to be liked. It’s not so hard for his dad, because of course the boy has unconditional love for him. But as a FSM I worry that he will only conditionally love me. Remember: it’s not about you it’s about them, and with limits comes respect and with respect comes love. Having stable and known boundaries breeds security and is just one more way your children will come know your love for them.

5. Use a Family “Team Name”

Create a family team name and use it often. Everyone can be involved in helping to decide on a team name for the family. The unity that comes from a team will create something special that helps your child/children to separate out your family —-_from their other families_. Use your team name or family phrases frequently, and let them pop-up whenever relevant. Our family hasn’t established a team name yet, but I have been utilizing family phrases over & over again. At this point, I’m the only one using the family phrases in everyday discussions, but it takes time.

I try to use them like this:

A family is a team that helps everybody, and that’s why we all have to do chores, even Daddy.

Some people do use bad words, but in this family we don’t use bad words.

Using your family phrases as an explanation helps your child distinguish why other kids say and do the things they do, and why it’s not okay for them to do those things.

Blended Family Blog Lingo that I’ve been using:

  • BM or BD – biological mom or biological dad
  • DF – Dear Fiance
  • DC – Dear Child
  • FSMFuture Stepmom
  • IMHOIn my honest opinion


# Maclyn Kelley wrote on Mon 09/09/13 at 10.16 AM:

Beautifully said! Many things to think about with our family! You rock Kristal! <3

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