A blended family is a family consisting of a couple and child/children from previous relationships. Most times we just call them step-families. Now, it is no secret that step families are a hot bed of friction. This however does not mean that the other kinds of families do not experience friction – they do. The structure of the step-family and the complex family relations that exists in step-families however makes them susceptible to friction and conflict. This makes it impossible to move forward especially if they are not resolved. Most couples and children in step families are stuck in a cycle of friction and conflict and are on the verge of giving up.
It is said prevention is better that cure. In this case it is possible to reduce friction and conflicts in our step-families by establishing a family environment that is based on respect, appreciation, consideration, courtesy, dignity, esteem, honor & regard. Generally most conflicts in our step family units are because a member is feeling disrespected or unappreciated. This of course, causes them to talk/act/behave in a way that will cause friction in the family. If you are in a blended family, here is how to minimize friction in your step family.
- Set respect as a basic standard
Make respect the basic requirement from all members of your step family. We are aware that step children and step parents may not instantly like each other this is because relationships take time to form and grow. So what happens before the relationship is formed (sometimes it is never formed – especially with adult step children)?
Though it is acceptable that a step child may not immediately like the step parent, it is important that respect is accorded to the step parent. A step parent is not merely their parent’s wife/husband but also a significant member of the family too. It is therefore important that the bio parent acknowledges the difficulty their child may be having in embracing the step parent but demand that the child treats the step parent with respect. Mutual respect is also essential between step parents and their adult step children. Please note that to get respect you must give it too. Therefore step parents and bio parents respect the children in your family.
2. Do not bad mouth the other parent
It is common for the parents in a blended family to bad mouth their exes. As the parent who kept the child, there will be an incredible, almost overwhelming need to bad mouth the other parent. This is either because it true that he/she is as you say or because talking ill about them somehow makes you feel better about yourself. The second reason is both common and immature.
To reduce friction, resist, if possible hold or bite your tongue but do not bad mouth the other parent – especially in the presence of their child, whether they deserve it or not, whether dead or alive, DO NOT. Whenever you need to vent, look for a trusted friend or relative and vent. You are asking for too much whenever you bad mouth your child’s bio parent in their presence and expect them to respect you. Though the child may say nothing, they will be obviously be offended and will not hold you in high regard whether you are their bio parent or step parent.
3. Co Parent with Less or No Drama
Co-parenting is a tricky area to navigate for most couples who are separated or divorced. Parenting with your ex at times is not easy especially when there are still unresolved negative emotions. Research says that, children generally are capable of adjusting well after their parents’ divorce, however, if the divorced parents keep fighting, the effects to the child are more devastating than the divorce.
Love your child more than you hate your ex! Put their wellbeing first and make co-parenting as stress free as possible. Children (from whatever kind of family) need security, stability and peaceful environment. If the child can feel this, then you will reduce friction and conflict in your step family.
Author: Wanjiru Kihusa
I am Wanjiru Kihusa and I’m a writer and founder of Still A Mum – an organization that seeks to reduce maternal and newborn deaths in Africa. I am especially passionate about women and children.
I blog to share my thoughts and experiences hoping that in the process someone will learn from my life.