What is an integrated family?
When you and your partner live together with the kids from one or both of your prior relationships, this is known as an integrated family or stepfamily. Creating a new, blended family may be both a wonderful and difficult endeavor.
Your children or the children of your new spouse may not be as thrilled about the prospect of your remarriage as you as your parents are likely to be. They’ll probably be unsure of how the impending changes will influence their connections with their biological parents.
Additionally, they’ll be concerned about relocating with new stepbrothers and stepsisters, some of whom they might not even like or even know well.
Any family faces challenges in maintaining harmony, but combining two different families can frequently make for an even more difficult path.
The early years are generally the most challenging to manage, and it can take many years to find the appropriate blend for everyone involved.
In addition to building their relationships and getting to know one another better, newlyweds must also manage their interactions with their biological and stepchildren. Here are 7 pieces of advice for families with stepparents.
1. The best medicine is laughter
A hearty chuckle often helps to defuse tension in a scene. One of the most important aspects of creating harmony in blended families and relationships with stepchildren is to feel at ease.
If you can all laugh together, it’s a good indication that you’re on the right track to forging intimate bonds. It’s not necessary to limit jokes and laughter to verbal sparring.
Play-fighting and general goofing around with the kids, depending on their ages, is a wonderful way to bring everyone together. Just remember to be gentle with one another! In essence, one of the best ways to make your new family feel at ease is to not take yourself too seriously, and ultimately, this is the purpose.
2. Concentrate On The Person
Although creating a large, happy family may be your ultimate goal, the secret is to concentrate on personal connections. The relationships we have with people individually versus in a group can be very different, and it is these one-on-one ties that will provide the groundwork for blended family happiness.
For instance, if you’re a stepparent, you should spend time with your stepchildren to get to know them better, understand their interests, any potential worries they may have, etc. It’s a brand-new connection, therefore it will take some time for it to develop.
It could be a good idea to set out a specific period each week for spending time together. Take your stepchild’s lead in whatever you decide to do with that time; even though you may be acting in their place as a parent, you are ultimately not that person’s parent. Make sure you still set up a time for your biological children.
It’s easy to overlook this relationship during a hectic procedure like the joining of families, so be careful to keep in mind that they are also your top concern. A young couple must make time for one another. For example, scheduling regular “date nights” on the calendar is a surefire strategy to maintain the flame.
3. Activities Must Cooperate
Now, while scheduling some time for your family to bond is a great start, be sure that any activity you decide to do as a family is inclusive. These priceless moments can potentially do more harm than you might think if someone feels different. Why not leave them to it and use that time getting to know your other kids instead, if your girlfriend likes to go swimming with her stepson and you’re not too comfortable in the water? Always remember that finding common ground is as much about shared interests as it is shared mindsets.
4. Locate a Talking Point
Stepparenting and merging various households involve some physically and emotionally taxing aspects. You must locate someone with whom you can discuss issues or even serve as a sounding board for you to vent. This might be a close friend, a family member, or even a therapist. whatever makes you feel most at ease. Finding a secure place to express your negative emotions is important since holding them in might be detrimental to your new connections.
5. Offer assistance when transitioning.
Children who live in split households typically experience the most instability these days. Because switching between parents is emotional, even the smallest incident might set off a child’s temper. Just be mindful of this and particularly sensitive to your emotions at these times. Allow your youngster to weep if they want to. The best time to deal with their feelings is now rather than later, so try not to let them bury them.
6. Continually Show Respect to Other Parents
Understandably, this important advice isn’t always simple to implement. Don’t let your anger at the parent who resides in a different home show in front of the kids, no matter how angry you may be with them.
Remember that no matter what their behavior, kids don’t appreciate it when their parents are disparaged, and it could hurt the bond you’ve worked so hard to build with your stepchild. Kids primarily want their parents to get along, but if that’s not feasible, at least have the wisdom to keep any resentful remarks out of their ears.
7. Have a Rest
Keep in mind that you’re not a superman! Even the most committed stepparents occasionally need some alone time. Be gentle to yourself and periodically take a break. This could be as simple as taking a quick stroll around the neighborhood or reading a few pages in a quiet room of the house. Don’t deprive yourself of everything you need to rest and refresh.
Do you feel incredible as though stepparenting is too much for you? Are you worried and upset about the conflicts your new partner and children are having? What can you do to create a happy and balanced blended family?
An emphasis on personal relationships
Early on, despite the desire of some parents to be “one big happy family,” it’s frequently advisable to take things slowly and place more focus on fostering individual bonds. To get to know their stepchildren and learn to appreciate who they are and what they like apart from the rest of the family, stepparents need private time with them.
A stepparent can schedule up to an hour per week of special time with their stepchild for fifteen or thirty minutes. The youngster can do whatever they want at this time as long as it is safe and reasonable. Stepmom or stepdad is there to follow their stepchild’s path and to fill them with appreciation and respect, without instructing, teaching, or criticizing them.
This is an opportunity to discover shared interests and establish a setting where the child and adult may be truly themselves while feeling safe and at ease. A strong and loving bond between a stepparent and a stepchild can be built throughout these periods. Supporting kids through transitions
It is challenging to move back and forth between homes. Days of transition can be difficult. It is a time when youngsters are more prone to irrational emotions and tiny mishaps can quickly rile them up. Lean in, make eye contact, and listen if a child starts to cry about leaving for mommy’s house, dropping a granola bar as she was leaving, or losing an item of clothing. A child’s day is likely to go better if she is allowed to cry rather than concealing her emotions.
Making space for emotions to surface as a child returns home after a long absence or departs for the other house might significantly improve the situation. Make careful to plan additional time for transitions in case strong emotions do arise so you can give your child more attention in the days leading up to and following their home change.
Laughter may strengthen bonds and ease the strain.
In blended families, laughter and physical play can be deliberately used during transitional times or to strengthen the bond between stepparents and stepchildren as well as between new and older siblings. Laughter and physical play can be the antidote to the tension that develops in any family. After supper, we engage in ritualistic fighting in our home.
When my stepdaughter returns to our home after being away for a few days, wrestling and roughhousing are very beneficial.
On our king-sized bed, one of our favorite things to do is, to begin with, a “steamroller.” We try to roll from one end of the bed to the other as she lies on top of me, hugging me tightly the entire time, frequently with little success but lots of laughing. As we clumsily steamroll our way to the edge, she continues to giggle until she starts to cry as a tween.
The game “Steal the Socks” may then be played. The kids surround me and attempt to remove my socks. They come together as a powerful team of sock snatchers: “You hold her here, I’ll grab her foot,” one of them yells to the other.
And in the end, they succeed. I am the one who struggles to flee, who trips as I try to get out of bed, and who lands on the rug. Last but not least, it is the kids who not only possess my socks but also have a little more authority than when they first entered the room that day.
Keep the laughter continuing by looking for places where your kids are laughing. Let them be the winner and you be the giant, clumsy loser; be the silly one who follows them through the house but can’t quite catch them. Play and laughter are a wonderful approach to defuse conflict and bring stepfamilies together.
Find a listener for yourself.
Parents need someone they can talk to relieve the stress of parenting in a blended family, whether it be the difficulties of roughhousing, creating space for the storm of emotions that can erupt in any household, or the pain of saying goodbye to a kid as they walk off with daddy. Discussing the pressures of blended families is a crucial survival skill.
Find a support system outside of your family. Someone who can simply listen without offering guidance can be a friend, a neighbor, a different parent, or a stepparent. Give everyone 15 to 30 minutes to talk, cry, or laugh about how difficult stepfamilies may occasionally be.
During this conversation, you can also discuss all the aspects of your stepchild or the natural kid that aggravate you. You should share with your listener the things you would never say to your children and definitely shouldn’t say to your partner but that you need to get off your chest.
Finding a listener who won’t provide their advice or suggest how to manage your next argument can be incredibly reviving and ultimately lead to you enjoying your stepchildren (or your biological children) even more.
Find activities to engage stepchildren and stepparents in rather than alienate them.
If mom and her daughter have a weekend routine of rollerblading and the stepdad isn’t very adept at it, he can feel like the odd parent out. To bridge the gap, look for activities that stepparents and stepchildren can participate in together. Every Saturday afternoon, a stepdad I know plays tennis with his stepson while the mother takes their girls to swim lessons.
Always be respectful to other parents.
Even though it can seem simple, it’s not always simple. Keep harsh remarks or stress away from the kids if you’re upset or furious at the parent who lives in the other home in the heat of the moment. All youngsters desire that their parents be respected (no matter how much conflict or hurt has ensued between them).
And even in their darkest hours, parents deserve to be acknowledged. Children shouldn’t witness or be involved in disputes between divorced or separated parents.
In reality, children just want their parents to get along. But if that’s not always possible, at least show each other some respect. Even if a parent is no longer there and the child has severed all ties with them, we may still reassure him that his mother, who is no longer able to live with him, still loves him.
Find a Break from the Storm
Even the most committed stepparent may become worn out, overburdened, and on the verge of burnout. Stepparents require a place to vent and feel connected to friends and other family members. When things get too much, that can entail contacting a loved one while taking a walk around the block or taking a nice book to another room of the house.
Or, even better, arrange to stay overnight with a good pal somewhere outside. Stepparents require a break from the strain of stepparenting just as parents do, to recharge and re-establish relationships with loved ones.
There were times when my stepdaughter was a young child that I wondered how I would ever handle a child that had such strong emotions and wasn’t my own. I would tell them how awful the days were over the phone to a friend, my mother, or my mentor.
My buddy once told me, “Julie, your stepdaughter will be one of the most important persons in your life one day,” during one of these frantic calls one morning.
That still holds now. We have developed an unshakable friendship. I love the young woman she is developing into, and our “special times” together are some of my favorite times with my daughter. Her passionate moments are easier for me to handle as well. We serve as live proof that it is possible to have a tight mixed family where huge emotions are still allowed and lots of laughter and love serve as the foundation of our bonds.