Parenting is not easy. When you add in the uniqueness of a blended family situation with shared kids, bonus kids, exes, bonus grandparents, and other extended family, things can get complicated. The key to success when parenting in general and especially in a blended family is mutual respect, open, regular, and effective communication, and a shared plan or vision for how you want to raise “shared” children. The way a blended family communicates largely depends on the state of relations between the exes and biological parents of shared children. If the break-up between the parents was rocky and the relationship is unhealthy or toxic it will be more difficult to establish the proper foundation of respect and civility necessary for success. However, if the parents can find a way to be civil and respectful despite any lingering negativity between them, then that bodes well for successful co-parenting in a blended family. If exes can keep the focus on the children and commit to taking the time and actions necessary to keep the children first, it is possible to create a loving and well-adjusted blended family.
To co-parent in a blended family – no matter the configuration as in co-parenting with the biological parent/the other parent and co-parenting with bonus parent/blended family co-parenting – communication is key. Co-parents must learn to communicate effectively, including about sensitive topics that will inevitably come up. To make sure communication doesn’t break down when facing tough issues co-parents should remember they are still parenting together and not separately. Even though each household will be different, the rules, values, and expectations should be respected and upheld in each home. Coparents need to establish roles for parenting and discipline from the start and be able to adjust to the needs of each child. This includes an agreement or understanding about the role of bonus parent disciplining which can be a hot-button issue. Practicing patience and understanding is also essential. Co-parenting is going to be a journey and it will be important for the sake of everyone in the family to find ways to enjoy the good and happy moments so there is greater resilience when challenging moments come along.
Even though there is always pain, uncertainty, and instability when families break up, the formation of a new blended family can be seen as an opportunity to create a new and unique family. This shift to a blended family will take time to come together and develop but the process can be an opportunity to create new family traditions, strengthen existing bonds, and make new ones. Figuring out how to effectively co-parent and establish a successful blended family, it is important to surround yourself with a community that will love and support you on your journey. The Positive Parenting Journey group ‘Let’s Parent’ is the perfect place to find that supportive community, go 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.