With the divorce rate averaging 50% nationally, and 68% of re-marriages involving children from prior marriages, there are more blended families in today’s society than ever before. In fact, a study I came across recently said 2100 new blended families are formed every day in America!
The old show The Brady Bunch makes blended families often seem easy, but that is so far from the truth! For children involved in blended families, even those that know they are dearly loved by everyone in their life, stress can still strike, often due to the regular routines of custody schedules. However, if there are two times of the year that are often the most full of stress it’s holidays and summer time when extended visits are arranged and normal routines are set aside.
Even if kids don’t seem to be exhibiting signs of stress, most likely, there is some under the surface. Monday’s post reviewed symptoms to look out for in kids and some activities to help them calm down, but when it comes to blended families, we might have to give some extra effort to managing their stress.
– Tell them about the schedule ahead of time so they aren’t blindsided by upcoming plans. Some only need a few days notice while others may need a month. Be aware of your child’s reactions to plans and make changes for the next time if needed.
– Although summer may bring on a new set of seasonal challenges in blended families, the attitude of both parents can play a huge role in the adjustment and happiness of the children. Parents who talk negatively about the step-parent or biological parent will cause children to have a more difficult time dealing with situations and their own emotions.
– Keep a family calendar on the fridge or somewhere visible so the family always knows what’s planned
– Children of blended families need a place to call their own in each home, including their own personal drawers, space and privacy. This helps them feel like a member of the family and not just a visitor.
– Depending on the ages of your children, include kids in the planning as much as possible. Allow them the opportunity to ask questions and let them know that open and honest communication is always wanted and encouraged.
– Try to plan trips or special summer outings during times where all the kids can go. Be sure to check with all parents to make sure vacation plans don’t overlap or occur too close together.
– In blended families, especially where children reside in both homes at various times, children may feel displaced at times, and sometimes feel alienated. Each parent should take time to talk to their own child to address that child’s feelings about the marriage, step-siblings, and family so emotions don’t build up.
– When planning vacations as a step-family, children often feel increased tension when everyone is together for extended periods of time. Make sure to not set your expectations too high and prepare yourself for some disagreements, however, set out for vacation with a positive attitude and intentionally be contagious to everyone around you.
– Biological parents need to be cognizant of spending time with their biological children when they are in the home. Although they may love their step-parent, it’s important to spend quality time with the biological parent as well, helping them feel loved and connected.
– If children are away from their regular home for extended periods of time in the summer, try to make provisions ahead of time for the child to keep in touch with friends and family while they are away. Plan activities or camps for them so they don’t feel like they are missing out on all the fun back home.
– Make sure the child understands the rules of the home and don’t assume that they already know. Then give them time to adjust and get involved with life in your household. They may need time to work through their thoughts and feelings and adjust to new surroundings.
– Know what their hobbies are or what favorite movies they like to watch, and prepare ahead of time to have these on hand.
Summer comes around every year, but it doesnt have to a season of dread for blended families. These are just a few tips to keep in mind to help build harmony in the home when routines and family dynamics change.
The winners of Wednesday’s double giveaway for the children’s book/DVD sets of From the Pound to the Palace by Van Walton are:
1. Twitter handle: Kelly S @KellyS91709
2. Diamond Jernigan who posted on July 31 at 1:56pm
If you are one these people, please send me an email with your address to firstname.lastname@example.org