Life revolves around rules in every situation and in every place in time. Within the blended family, families often are faced with issues such as conflict, resentment, hostility and anger from not just the exes involved in our lives, but also from the children of blended families. With all of the negativity, there are also positive ways to deal with these issues including by having flexibility, instilling patience, always loving and sometimes sacrificing. Most importantly, compromising.
Whatever the scenario is with your blended family, setting out your family “house rules” is one of the most important undertakings that all parents (whether step or biological) can implement with their children. One of the most important mountains to climb is to make sure that ALL parents are on the same page and encourage the children to be mindful of the other’s household and the rules held therein.
To begin instituting house rules and when conflicts arise, parents must make their children understand these four words —”In our house we….” When explaining and setting out rules, if the situation is addressed with those four simple words, there will be less of a chance that the children will become defensive and will be more accepting. The word “we” is very powerful. For example, as a step-parent, if I were to approach my step-daughter with “In My House…” or “When you are here…” it would make her feel as if she is only a visitor in our home. But, if I use the words “our and we” when addressing a situation with her, she will interpret that by including herself as a part of our family and not as an outsider that just visits.
Here are a few more tips on rules that you can use to help your blended family:
1. Include ALL parents in on discussions with one another about the levels of discipline that will be used in your household.
2. Do not ever allow your child or your step-child to play one parent against the other. More than likely, anything you hear from your child or step-child about the other parent is also being said about you in their household. Children who are having a difficult time with the divorce often do this. Communicate and try to resolve outstanding issues.
3. Set aside time for step-children to have alone time with their biological parent.
4. Create your own family traditions that include all children of the family.
5. Never show favortism. Plain and simple, this hurts.
6. Create chore lists for all children of the family and make sure everyone is pulling their own weight around the house.
7. Set curfews and make sure all abide by same.
8. Set aside alone time for you and your spouse as well. This is very important in maintaining balance.
9. Have a family meeting to discuss the house rules and parents expectations — In the end, children WANT and NEED boundaries and establishing them early on benefits everyone.
10. If you step-child has younger siblings in their primary household, encouarge them to help their bio parent(s) when they can. If you have older siblings in your household, teach them to help your younger children or step-children so that the example can be set both ways. Family means taking care of one another and taking care of one another means helping each other even when we don’t want to or when we are frustrated.
11. STAY CONSISTENT. Making children realize how important rules are in your household allows them to learn and prepare for their own future households. Children live what they LEARN!
In conclusion, being a family means sharing responsibility and part of that responsiblity is learning to abide by the rules, not just in your blended famly households and lives, but in LIFE in general. Teaching these lessons to our children will be invaluable to them in the future.
Peace and blessings,