How To Bond In A Blended Family

Create A Parenting Plan

Due to the sheer number of divorced families, it stands to reason that many couples entering into new relationships both already have children. When these families come together, there are many changes that need to be considered and planned for.

Ashley and Jeff have been dating for six months and are talking about moving in together. Like many other couples nowadays, they are both divorced and have children from those marriages.

They are excited to have found each other, and they want to share their lives together. The children have met on quite a few occasions and seem to get along well. Ashley and Jeff really want this new relationship to work and talk at length about how best to manage it. They refer to the Brady Brunch regularly, hoping that their new family will unite just like that one.

Much like their divorces, this is a transition forced on the children due to the parents' needs. Ashley and Jeff know that they need to be focused on the best interests of their children during this time. They have decided to create a parenting plan to help them have conversations, make decisions, and guide them through what they hope will be a successful transition into a blended family. Ashley and Jeff think that it may be a good idea to share some of their plan with their ex-partners, to ensure that they have a comfort level around the new people in their children’s lives. Ashley and Jeff feel that their children are old enough to have a voice and be a part of the process. They are choosing to create the parenting plan through a series of family meetings. Some sections will be decided solely by Ashley and Jeff—as the parents and adultsother sections will be created using feedback from the children.

Here are some tips that Ashley and Jeff are following to ensure that their transition is successful. They can work for you, too!

  • Resolve your divorce first: How you manage your divorce can play a significant role in the success of future relationships. Bringing unresolved issues and emotions into a new relationship will certainly create challenges.
  • Create a parenting plan: Discuss and agree to such topics as discipline, rules, behaviour, and parenting/step-parenting roles. Rules should be consistent in the house, and expectations, as well as consequences, should be clear.
  • Be respectful of the natural parents: There are roles for parents and step-parents. Children will feel safe if the transition from home to home is smooth, and if the parents and step-parents are respectful of the other’s relationship with their children.
  • Continue the strong relationship with your own children: As you work hard to build a relationship with your step-children, it is often easy to take the relationship with your own children for granted. You will need to pay equal attention to your own children so that they don’t feel displaced during the transition.
  • Talk to the children: Don’t spring it on them. Let them know of your intentions early on. Make sure they have a voice, and that you are responsive to their concerns. Help your partner do the same.
  • Remember each child is unique: Children will adjust in their own way in their own time. Children need to develop relationships on their own—not be forced into them.
  • Line up parenting schedules if and when you can: In order for the kids to bond, they need to spend time together developing as a family. Special occasions and holidays will want to be spent together when they have bonded.
  • Quality Time: Ensure each parent spends time with their own children, with their step-children, and also—equally as important—with each other, to continue to develop and strengthen their relationship.
  • Get professional support if required: The help of counsellors or mediators may make your transition smoother.

Remember, your children want to see you happy and in a healthy relationship. You, in turn, want to show your children what a healthy relationship looks like. It will take some time and effort, but it will pay off, if you plan this transition and see it through.

Enjoy the chaosit won’t last forever.

Julie Gill Q.Med

I am the Owner and Principal Mediator of Families First Mediation, 

I went through a terrible divorce, I worked hard to develop a career in the financial world, I have been the primary caregiver to both my kids and my parents and I’m now happily in a blended family situation. I have a lot of life experience – some great, some just great learning experiences.

Conflict happens...that is no surprise. How you choose to deal with it will make a difference as to how successful you are getting through it.

Through Families First Mediation Julie provides you with the opportunity to fairly, creatively and personally develop solutions that best meet YOUR requirements.

Julie helps people navigate issues related to Divorce, Elder Care Support, Sports Teams, Schools, Neighbourhood Disputes and Workplace Stress to name a few.

Julie will help you learn how to fight...FAIR.

Julie is a member of the Ontario Association for Family Mediation, Family Mediation Canada and a Qualifed Mediator with the ADR Institute of Ontario. Julie has training in Family Mediation, Conflict Resolution, Negotiation and Restorative Justice.