Change is Unavoidable
The first step is to remember that anytime someone is added to your family, the dynamic changes. This realization can be a hard adjustment for everyone involved. When you remember that this change is natural, unavoidable, and necessary, you can better adapt to what is to come, even the unexpected.
Being Intentional is Key
It is so easy to do things ‘the way we have always done them’ because that is what we know. However, the way you have been doing things in your family is most likely not the same as the family member(s) joining you. Be intentional about including everyone and discussing how things will work moving forward. Some important areas to talk about are: rules, chores, discipline, and behavioral expectations. Many times we assume things will be done a certain way and we don’t even realize it. For example, I grew up in a home where my dad did all of the yard work. My husband, on the other hand, came from a family whose mom took care of the yard upkeep. He and I learned the hard way that we needed to discuss our individual assumptions and figure out what would work best for our family. A lot of families have found success by having weekly family meetings to check in, discuss how everyone is doing, and allow members to share if there is something with which they are having a hard time.
Your Way Is Not The Only Way
It is crucial to remember your family’s way of doing things isn’t the only way – and it may not even be the best way. When we assume that it is, we force our opinions and processes onto someone else. It tells the other person, whether we mean to or not, that we are more important than they are, that they are wrong, and what they think doesn’t matter. Any time we alienate someone, or when something we do results in them feeling inferior, it turns our way into not the best way.
Have Difficult Conversations
It is important to ask ourselves, “How do we show that our way is not better than theirs, and work to come up with a new way together?” The answer – we talk about it with one another. Be creative to come up with something that will work for all members of the family. This conversation may be one between the two parents coming together or may include the whole family. However you decide to have the conversation, it is a conversation that is necessary to becoming a successful family.
Ask For Help When You Need To
The final step is to seek out professional help. Joining families together is not easy. It can make a huge difference to meet with someone experienced in helping people blend families. A coach or counselor can help you work to identify expectations, utilize new processes, establish rules, and develop healthy communication.
Families are complex, intricate, frustrating, and wonderful. Don’t lose sight of the love you have for your family when things become tumultuous. When the waves are crashing on your family, and it feels like it may capsize: stay in the boat, put on your life jacket, and fight. I believe in you and Crosswinds is here to help you succeed.