- Treat whatever children are brought in EQUALLY, regardless of with whom they share DNA. Nobody gets special treatment because he or she is the “oldest/youngest/mine/yours…”
- Demonstrate you are an adult, married couple FIRST and parents SECOND. See to it that your kids experience you that way. Many new second marriages have significant difficulty because the couple are trying to prove what kind of parents they are instead of stabilizing the household by simply being happily married and having everyone enjoy fitting in to the new structure. The couple enjoys the structure of the marriage, co-parenting and being the adults, and the children can begin to enjoy the stability marriage brings to a home, the balance of male and female input and guidance, and the structure of adults being in charge of children.
- The new couple should discipline the children based on what either one sees in the moment, and what the particular child needs to learn in the moment they need to learn it. Both adults should be 100% free to reprimand, give consequences and punishments to any child who needs it, and be 100% backed up by the other (especially in front of the kids).
You SHOULD NOT:
- Have power struggles between the parents. If the marriage becomes a battleground for who gets to have things “the old way” or “the way it used to be” then there will be no end of problems. This is a new marriage and an important second start for everyone in the family to thrive and excel. Immature fights about who’s right or who gets to win are going to ruin your chances for success. Decide BEFORE you say “I do” what the rules will be, how they will be administered, and how you will resolve the issues that will naturally come up. The more you’re on the same page about how things should go, the better.
- Let the in-laws in your business. Your friends and family have 1 job: support and encourage the success of your new marriage and new blended family. Period. There are no other important priorities. Loyalty to your prior families or relationships is fine, and extended family should be welcomed with open arms, but not if those relationships come with a price; if you have to be disrespectful to your new family or play favorites to keep them happy, that’s your sign that those people (whoever they are) need to be at arms-length. This is especially true with wives and their mothers… if the wife is more interested or motivated to side with her mother or please her mother rather than her husband, it is the beginning of the end. There is a reason the Bible says “cleave from your family” and many women don’t- hence more pressure and strain on a situation that requires loyalty and consistency.
- Miss the opportunity to make new memories and create new traditions. Many new blended families rely too much on protecting or advancing the “way we used to…” rather than step into the fun and excitement of creating new family experiences together. Often some compromise or blending of both histories is a good way to start, but in the end, this is a new family, with just as much importance of the old ones. Be sure to include everyone in that process… even petulant teen-agers who proclaim they aren’t interested… everybody needs to have ownership in co-creating their new lives… preferably with respect, calmness, and a growing affection for the new relatives!