Updated: Apr 28
Life after a breakup can feel overwhelming and daunting. Thinking about dating again, bringing a new partner into the friends and family fold, introducing them to your children and potentially meeting theirs, and having to create a family unit and structure, is a lot. The process of transitioning children to two households is equally exhausting and not always the easiest water to navigate, especially in the beginning. Despite those challenges, many blended families can find their way to successfully blend two families and establish appropriate and supportive relationships between all involved adults to create the best environment for the children. The question is how do they do it?
The first thing to understand in this process is it will take time and can’t be rushed. In many cases, you and your co-parent will feel desperate to make the new family structure work but trying not to rush new relationships will go a long way toward long-term success. Do not put pressure on yourselves to achieve your desired results too soon because this can backfire and create breaks and rifts in the bonds you are trying to establish rather than strengthen them. By thinking about the new blended family as a long-term process to raise happy, healthy, and well-adjusted children in a supportive and loving environment, you will understand that every step along that path toward the ultimate goal is just as important as the process.
Many often say that the goal is to be one big happy family comprised of two parts but this isn’t always a useful or accurate goal for blended families. Healthy families consist of solid relationships between individuals. For example, instead of rushing toward the final goal, bonus parents can and should actively try to build meaningful and lasting relationships with their partner’s children.
Establishing these relationships slowly and steadily at a consistent pace allows bonus parents to establish their own individual relationships with their partner's children. Building these individual relationships has many upsides, including the importance of your partner and children getting to. genuinely know one another, it also demonstrates to everyone that having a connection with your children is equally important to their connection with you.
Another important way to establish relationships is to see yourself or your new partner as an addition and not a replacement. Space must be in blended families for bonus parents to be included. These types of changes and growing pains can be tough but they are necessary. However, this in no way means that children should be made to feel that their relationships with bonus parents replace or are somehow a threat to their relationships with parents. Bonus parents always need to respect the importance and sacredness of their children's relationship with their other parents. In these situations teaching children that the definition of “family” can be big enough to include both parents and bonus parents.
There is a lot to unpack on this subject. If you are seeking more information, resources, or simply an incredible group of people in similar situations as yours, consider joining the Positive Parenting Journey group here to learn about what the group has to offer. For more information and resources in general about co-parenting and blended families, consider joining our mailing list here.