How to Foster Respect and Cooperation in Your Blended Family
Changing the lives of kids and adults through blending can be a tricky situation. It's quite an adjustment for all involved! It's normal to experience some difficulties while everyone gets used to the newly created family unit. Kids may be resentful due to the loss of space and change in family structure. As a result, they may take out their frustrations on each other or their parents.
To begin, whether the blend is due to a romantic relationship or a practical living situation, parents need to set up some common rules. If the adults are inconsistent in their approach with the kids, chaos and difficulty will be the norm. For successful behavior management, all adults need to be on the same page. The adults should set up some age appropriate rules and consequences that can be written out and posted in the home. Decide together on the difficult behaviors and set up some reasonable consequences. All parents need to enforce the consequences for this to work.
In addition, chores need to be distributed among all. A family chore chart would work well. Or, you could have 2 charts...one for kids and one for adults. It's important for adults to role model respectful behavior and team work. A family chore chart can be posted in a communal area. All parents should meet with the kids to discuss the rules of the house as well as talk about family respect. Kids need to know that they will be held accountable by every adult present.
You can also have all the kids work together to brainstorm chores to add to the chore charts. The more structured the home, the easier things will run. Even television time, bathroom time, or homework time can be structured, written out and posted for all to see. The more structured the environment, the less opportunity kids will have to make trouble!
Give the kids a chance to check in about how things are going. Have a weekly family meeting where everyone can give constructive and helpful input about the week. This would give the kids an opportunity to voice their opinions in a healthy way instead of letting their frustrations build.
With respect, structure and healthy communication, your blended family will eventually run like a well oiled machine!
by Joanne McNulty, MS