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COVID has shone a spotlight on how different our parenting styles and expectations for our kids really are. By Caitlin Crawshaw August 13, If our custody schedules align and all of us are at home, I wake up with the kids and make smoothies for breakfast.

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What is a blended family? A blended family is defined as a family composed of a couple and their children from marriages. Yet, each blended family is unique and comes with its own dynamic challenges. With divorces and re-marriages involving children, blended families vs. Adults and children alike are facing major changes that come with adjusting to a new way of life. Blended families and step-parenting affect adults and children across multiple generations as well. Social and demographic trend reports from the Pew Research Center detail statistics on changing family structures in the United States.

Blended family dynamics are complex. Many different skills are required.

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All these interconnected relationships bring new challenges to the table. You may also be dealing with the sadness your child feels as a result of divorce and the exhaustion experienced for children bouncing back and forth between households. Some common issues in blended families and typical step-parenting problems are:.

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Is step-parenting easy? Absolutely not—it demands the best of us. They have stretched me in ways I never knew possible. I am certainly not implying that every day is filled with rainbows and unicorns. We face challenges and new experiences daily, but my powerful desire to be the best I can for them and my husband encourages me as we all learn and grow together in our blended family.

Below are some of my lessons so far that may be helpful. Five principles have guided our blended family. These have been key to creating more ease and a safe space within our family as we all adjust to my role as wife and stepmother. We all have different perspectives and emotions around our experiences. Showing respect for those differences is crucial to positive relationships. This understanding is particularly important for parents as children observe how both of their parents and stepparents interact.

You may not always agree yet how you model for your children amidst disagreement, speaks volumes.

Help for blended family issues

Children are navigating big feelings around their parents, stepparents, and siblings and adjusting to the continual change in their lives. Biological parents may feel threatened by having their children raised or influenced by a stepparent. The strong feelings and conflicts that naturally arise are a challenge for adults and particularly difficult for children. Recognizing that we cannot fully understand the experience of another, showing empathy for different perspectives is imperative. Take time to listen. Consider the perspective of others.

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Empathy and trying to understand one another have been important in our family. Getting clear on expectations of roles for parents eliminates frustrations upfront. When parents and stepparents in the same household are clear on their roles in discipline and daily responsibilities, conflict decreases.

Remember that your children are going back and forth between different sets of rules and lifestyles as they spend time with each parent. How you handle roles in your household is your way, but it is not the only way. Many people wonder: How should a stepparent discipline?

Blended family issues

A firm boundary that I have drawn within my blended family is to allow my husband to take the lead in decisions and discipline with the children. Major decisions and concerns regarding the children are the responsibility of my husband and the mother of his children. My roles are to support my husband, create a unified front, and develop my relationship with our children.

I do have input for how we handle situations in our household, but we have agreed never to contradict each other in front of the children. Your marriage comes first. Have an agreement to talk openly, address struggles promptly, and support each other.

What is a blended family?

Sometimes just having a sounding board to vent can help dissipate emotions and help solve problems. Children observe everything we do. They are learning from us how they deserve to be treated by partners when they grow up. My husband has been a tremendous help in my adjustment to parenting roles.

As we focus on connecting and supporting each other, we create a solid foundation for ourselves and the children. Establishing roles takes time. Everyone is adjusting. Coming on too strong or just defaulting to the other parent does not establish trust or respect.

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Remember that you are building relationships, learning new skills, and things are continually evolving. This process takes time. Observe, ask questions, and get curious. Since step-parenting and blended families can be so demanding, be sure and find time for exercise and self-care individually and as a couple.

You'll be much more likely to be at your best. Exercise has been a mainstay for our blended family with many benefits. Be sure to take care of yourself on this parenting journey. Marriage and parenting are hard work, yet they are also the most rewarding work that we can do. I have made mistakes and learned some hard lessons along the way. If you need help building skills to navigate the challenges of your blended family, we are here to help! Check out our parenting resources.

First introduced to Heartmanity as a coaching client inshe quickly fell in love with the work. After experiencing ificant transformation in all areas of her life, she became deeply committed to the Heartmanity mission. Other passions of Christina's are helping blended families to unify and guiding couples to navigate engagements, intentional wedding planning, and wedding ceremonies. She is Heartmanity's resident ordained minister.

Rules and boundaries in blended families: the basics

Posted in Perfectly Imperfect Parenting. Get the support you deserve. Imprint your baby with love. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Heartmanity's Blog. Upgrade your feelings and learn from their wisdom. And have fun doing it! MOMPreneurs Grow a business and a family while you thrive! Blog Read the latest nugget of wisdom from our blog "Thoughts to Thrive on. Get in touch! HOME drama-free marriage Create close, loving relationships that thrive and fulfill you both.

Blended Family Statistics and Trends Blended families and step-parenting affect adults and children across multiple generations as well.

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I am a part of a blended family as a stepparent. As I did not have children of my own and did not have a family locally, my learning curve in the stepparent role has been steep. The availability of encouraging resources to help a blended family transition, define new roles, help navigate problems, and cope with feelings were tough to find. Yet, my experience was much different than a traditional family, especially because I had not been a parent before. Step-parenting and blended families are a tremendous opportunity to extend love and understanding across multiple families of origin and create strong bonds and thriving relationships.