Today I received an accidental reminder on how to live in a blended family.  I was looking through an old planner for a phone number and came across some old notes I’d taken in a step-parenting class “Hub” and I had taken soon after we were married.  I’d completely forgotten the notes existed.  The notes are a great reminder to me about things I learned back then.  I had to cringe when I read some of the notes though, because in some areas I have slipped.  I take it as a blessing to have been “reminded” on how to best blend a family.  One of the best ways to make sure you remember something is to rewrite (or type) it.  So, for today’s post, I type some of my former notes.

*As a couple, establish your own traditions. 

*Every kid needs “space” of their own.

*Help each child find significance in the family.

*Establish effective roles in relationships.

*Don’t attack the non-custodial parent.

*Don’t be judgemental.  Example:  “My kid never talks to me that way.”  Wrong!  Instead, describe the offending behavior unemotionally and in a non-judgemental way.

*Learn to do things in a different way.

*Stay flexible.  Rigidity brings opposition and challenge.

*Have a strong sense of self-identity.

*Be open to change and growth.

*Allow other family members to be individuals.

*You are responsible for the kids, not to the kids.

*If you are feeling guilty for the divorce and the pain the kids are experiencing you may be tempted to excuse the kids from responsibility and accountability.  Don’t do it!

*Kids can, and should, contribute around the house by doing chores.  Kids feel good when they contribute to the family.  They become invested.

*Being a firm, consistent parent is one of the best gifts we can give our kids.

*Roles as a step-parent:  1.  Be a friend.  More like an aunt or uncle.  Not the same as a buddy.  2.  You can be a confidant.  3.  Be another parent figure–in addition to, not instead of.  4.  You can be like a mentor or coach.  Be sure that the kids want your advice before you give it.  5.  Be a role model.

*Step-children don’t want the step-parent to discipline.  Wait a couple of years before doing so.  As a couple talk about any offending behavior alone together, then present a united front.

Those are some of the general notes about building a blended family.  There are other notes about strengthening the marital relationship that I will type in a separate blog post another time.  Finding these little reminders has been good for me.  It is good to take a step back occasionally and look inward.  Reminders usually come when we most need them.