Half of all families are blended families. They are also called step families. Where most marriages begin with a couple and then children come along later—the opposite is true with blended families. The children precede the marriage and are often antagonistic toward it.
One of the first and most important secrets of success as a blended family is to protect and prioritize the marriage first. It is the nucleus that everything else builds around. This is a special challenge in a step family situation because in many cases the children try to pit their biological parents against their step-parents.
To keep your marriage strong you must act as a united front in decisions related to the children. Both the parent and step-parent must not allow the children to play on their emotions or manipulate them. All decisions need to be made with both spouses acting as a team.
This means the biological parent gives ownership of his or her children to their spouse. It also means the non-biological parent must take ownership and responsibility. Even though it is wisdom for discipline to be enforced by the biological parent in most cases—the non-biological parent must be a full partner in setting up the disciplinary guidelines and in the possession of parental authority in the home.
Another critical issue related to step-parenting is equity. Even though all children are sensitive to being treated with equality, there is a hyper-sensitivity in step families. This is especially true where both spouses have children from previous marriages or there are children they have together, but others that came into the marriage from one spouse but not the other.
All children must be treated equally. The best way for this to happen is for both spouses to be involved in the decision making. This doesn’t mean that every little thing that happens has to be discussed. It does mean that the parameters and guidelines must be agreed upon and either spouse won’t act alone without the knowledge and blessing of the other.
Be a united front and be fair. Your blended family will reap the benefits.