Tips on Making a
Blended Family Work
By Susie and Otto Collins
Since this is the second marriage for both of us, we
wanted it to be great and exactly the kind of
relationship that we wanted.
While a new marriage
certainly takes some getting used to, the children
that come along with the new marriage can complicate
Now, don't get us
wrong--children are a wonderful blessing but they
usually add stress to a new marriage.
In our situation, Susie's
daughter was grown and had her own family. Although
there wasn't the stress that comes with younger
children, there was the challenge of getting used to
the idea that her mom had a new life and new family.
Since Otto was only six
years older than Susie's daughter, there was the
whole issue of decided for each of them how they
would relate to each other.
step-daughter didn't seem quite right but what did
Otto's son at the time of
our marriage was primarily being raised by his
mother and his son was not in need of another
mother. That scenario is certainly a common one and
is usually filled with challenges.
What we've found in our
case, as well as many other blended families,
there seems to be a jockeying for
position when the two
families come together because there's an
unconscious belief by one or more of the family
members that there isn't enough love to go
around in this new arrangement.
This "jockeying" for position
that happens when two
families are trying to
blend into one is very close to
the dynamic that is present
when there is jealousy
in a relationship. When
someone is jealous, it comes from fear that
their needs won't be met.
While it's not always been
smooth sailing, we have been able to keep and deepen
the connection between the two of us, as well as
build love and trust with our children. Here
are a few suggestions that have worked for us:
--Plan special dates alone with
so that they know there is
enough love to go around.
--Honor your partner's need to spend time alone with
his/her children. Do not insist on being a part of
everything they do together.
--Plan regular alone time with
your spouse--to talk,
to hold hands, to make
love, to be together. Don't allow your together
time to fall into the cracks as you create your
new family situation.
--Remember your spouse is your
friend and listen
without judging, without
butting in with advice unless asked about
raising his/her kids--unless of course harm
could come because of decisions made.
--Get rid of blame and the need
to be right. Work
together towards positive
solutions with open hearts
--Honor each other's
differences. Parenting styles are
so different and it takes a
lot of courage to learn from each other and not
be so rigid, thinking there's only one way to
parent--your way. Open your heart to learning
--Clearly define roles, rules
Everyone in the family
should be included in a
discussion and buy into
them. Make your steps clear.
--Be persistent, patient and
don't take it personally!
If you are in a blended family,
we urge you to
make a commitment with your
partner to take steps
to improve the
communication between the two of you. We've
found that our family situation has improved as
we have learned to communicate better with each
Everyday the two of us recommit
our love for each other and our belief that we are
together to learn from each other. We wish the same
for you and your family.