A new year means a crisp, fresh, shiny new start. So regardless of the state of your blended family, 2015 can be a brand new beginning for you. If something is not working, continuously doing the same thing over and over is going to result in the same thing. Ask yourself a few questions.
Are you happy with the current situation? Is your spouse? Are your children? Is there continuous conflict with the other household? If so, could some of which be avoided?
Think about all of the questions before you answer them, especially that last one. I know it is very difficult to get along with someone who refuses to work with you, and will not conform even a tiny bit. Sometimes it takes one person to lead the way. In our family Molly made the first move. We have had brief periods of time when we haven’t gotten along, and even when communication has almost broken down completely, but we always manage to talk it out. No matter what seems to happen between us, we always remember at some point who and what is at stake – the kids and their well-being. Not to mention, I actually get more details and information from Molly, and she gets more information from me than if Jeff and I only communicated to one another. Women pay attention to details, moms pay attention to certain things. Not that dads and men don’t, but there are things that she notices and shares with me that I would never know happened if we did not communicate directly. If you do not yet communicate with your child’s step-parent/bio-parent, I highly recommend it.
9 New Years Tips:
- Try to say only positive things both to yourself and to others about the other household, both in front of the kids and away from them. The more you think and speak positively, the more of the good things you will notice. (Have you ever noticed this in marriage as well?) It might be difficult at first, but it gets easier.
- Compliment your children on positive attributes that remind you of the other parent, and associate them with the other parent. This will help to make the child feel tied to both parents. I tell my girls when one of them shows a similar talent to their father. It makes them feel good to hear that validation from me.
- Try chore charts or calendars at both houses to have consistency.
- Co-parenting meetings to discuss what is going on with the kids, discipline, and other parenting plans.
- A pleasant attitude goes a LONG way! The next time you see your ex or their spouse/significant other, lose the sarcasm. You do not have to lay on a fake front for them, just try a smile and a neutral position. A business relationship works best at first. Keep all topics besides the children off the table. Leave everything else out until you get the hang of it.
- Try to remember most of the time if it seems like the other parent seems irritated or in a bad mood, it is not always about you. This was tough for me at first. It’s so easy to assume we know what is happening inside someone’s head, but the truth is we have no idea what was going on before you interacted with the other parent. The other factor is the child. My children are not angels. They will manipulate a situation if given the opportunity, which is another great reason for communicating frequently and directly with the other household.
- Try to remember that the other parent did not anticipate their marriage ending in divorce, and their ideal family dream either. If there is a step-parent involved, they never envisioned you as their dream for their family either. For instance, when Molly experienced the pregnancy and birth of her two children, my ex had already been through two other pregnancies and births. She was unable to experience the newness that comes with starting a family with someone who has never had a previous marriage. Divorce, remarriage, and co-parenting with an ex and a step-parent are not what you envisioned for your future, but it is far better than spending your time hating, fighting, and spreading poison to your children. I discovered early on after my divorce, the more anger I felt toward my ex, the worse I felt about myself. Anger is like cancer spreading and consuming every positive thing in its path.
- Take time for yourself. On those days when the kids are with the other parent, make sure you take some you-time. It s vital to nurture yourself. You tell your kids to rest, take time to play and have fun, so why not you? Hold yourself to the same standards. Mother yourself!
- Spend one-on-one time with your spouse if you are remarried. Your children are important, but never forget the person, the partner by your side. It’s tough being a step-parent. One-on-one time is the best way to show your spouse how important they are to you.
Do you have a great relationship with the other household? If so, I would LOVE to hear about it! Write to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Trish Eklund is taking a nontraditional approach to parenting children after divorce and remarriage. Raising her two daughters of eleven and fifteen with her husband, ex-husband, and his wife, they consult one another on all parenting decisions. Trish is the owner and founder of Family Fusion Community. Trish has been featured on www.playground-magazine.com, and www.bigblendedfamily.com. She is a regular writer on www.herviewfromhome.com, writer and co-editor for Her View From Omaha. Follow her on Twitter: @trishiewriter, Google +, and Pinterest.