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Forefront families by Sally Burgess; The new blended family journey; www.forefrontfamilies.org

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Brian and Sally Burgess

The big day has arrived. The vows have been said. The cake has been eaten. The bouquet has been thrown. It is all over. Now it’s just a matter of riding off into the sunset to the tune of “Happy Trails to You”.  Sigh! 

Oh, how we wish our blended family life together could be just like that.  Surprising though it may seem, with enough training, preparation and skill, remarriages or new committed relationships can, in fact, work well from the early stages.  Having come from a blended family myself, I know some of the pitfalls full well.  I was very fortunate in some ways that my father did not remarry for ten years after divorcing my mother when we were toddlers.  My Dad had time to gather his shattered life together and re-invent himself into the parent we know him to be today.  During that period, we experienced a fairly stable life with Dad’s sister coming to take care of us for a number of years between.

The most important aspects prior to ‘remarriage’ include the following:

1) Fix yourself. Get professional help to heal if necessary.  2) Forgive yourself and your ex-partner/spouse. You can’t successfully move on until you do.  3) Nurture your children through the transition.  4) Do not be in a hurry to remarry. Stabilize your family.  5) Consider the characteristics you want to see in the person you would like to spend the rest of your life with, and the kind of parent you would wish for your children.  Make a list.  Check it twice!

Once you have found that special someone, ensure that they share the same values and beliefs that you do.  The values include integrity, respect, honesty, trust, loyalty, commitment, fairness and the willingness to forgive.  The beliefs include your spiritual life and your worldview.  Without compatibility in these areas it may lead to arguments and a lack of wholeness in your relationship.  Create a short and long term plan for your lives together.  If you are bringing existing children into the family, then it is very important to obtain blended family training so you can be prepared for the usual issues that arise when families merge. 

Once married or newly committed, set your family plan in place.  Include the children in the finer details so they feel a valued part of the family structure.  Create daily routines.  Explain your expectations and boundaries, your disciplinary measures and your reward system for meeting positive behaviors.  Explain that it will take time to get used to one another and encourage your kids to talk to you (biological parent) about their frustrations so things don’t escalate out of control.  Regularly check the ‘mood’ environment in the home.  Is it peaceful most of the time or is there an imbalance of negativity?  If so, talk to your spouse/partner about possible causes and deal with them.  Take your own children out for dates to give them a chance to be with you alone. 

Set rules about what should be shared between homes.  When your children visit their other parent, they should be encouraged to enjoy their time there, but not talk about what is going in your house and vice versa.  Backbiting is a very subtle thing.  Parents often unintentionally use their children as a weapon to stir up old wounds.  That is not fair.  Recognize it and get help immediately.

Create family goals and encourage your kids’ endeavors.  As parents, make time for yourselves.  Set your own goals once the family is settled.  When you are content within your relationship you will find your children will follow. 

If you have any comments on this subject please contact us at sally@forefrontfamilies.org, check out our website at www.forefrontfamilies.org or our blogsite at www.forefrontfamilies.blogspot.com.

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