Moving in together when one, or both, of you already have children, particularly children who are not babies, can be a difficult thing. There can be many hurdles and stumbling blocks along the way. What should be a pleasant experience, the joining of two families, can be very stressful if the needs of the children are not looked after. These needs tend to be both physical and emotional.
The child needs to know which room is going to be theirs, which bed is theirs, and where their personal belongings are to go. While it might seem ideal to have everything be shared, it is not realistic. If moving in together means the child does not have his, or her, own room, they should at least have an area for their belongings.
Children should not be expected to sleep in a public area, such as the living room.
If the child has pictures of their other parent they should be allowed space to display them in their room.
It is important that both adults understand that the child, or children, may feel displaced. Their biological parent has selected a new partner, and not only may the child see this as a betrayal to their other natural parent, but may feel that they (the child) are not important to their parent any longer.
Adults in new relationships, or new living arrangements, are often swept up in their own emotions and think the children are adjusting fine. While some children are quite resilient, others hide their emotions, or lash out. If the child is not feeling important they may resent the new person. Equally so the new person may resent the child as a reminder of their lovers earlier relationship. If there is a problem such as this, professional help may be needed to resolve issues.
It is also important that the child not be rewarded for inappropriate behaviors. They should not be encouraged to play games such as testing who you love more, them, your new partner, or your new partners children.
-Two Sets of Kids-
When combining two sets of children there are issues to consider. If there is an age difference some of the older child’s toys may not be safe to have out around a younger toddler or baby. If the ages are the same they might have jealousy issues around sharing of their toys and possessions. Hopefully they will be friends and get along, but this is not always the case as some personalities naturally conflict.
Forcing them to be friends will generally back fire. Children should be treated as individuals and never be compared to each other. It is important to find common interests and indulge those as well as allowing both to pursue their own interests.
Never compare the kids to each other. Resist tempation to value such traits as athletic ability over another trait in another child, such as artistic ability. Value each child as an individual.
-Handling Discipline and Rules-
When blending families one trick is establishing rules, and boundaries, which may be different from what they were in the past. The parents need to decide together what rules are to be kept and what ones are to be changed. They need to discuss the rules and agree themselves before imposing them on the children and running into contracting rules. It might even be easier to write down some family rules, such as bed times, chores, and such.
How a family resolves their issues is important. Each parent should be empowered to set rules and enforce them. The children should respect each parents ability to set rules and dish out discipline. The parents should come to an agreement early on how the children are to be disciplined.
Blending two families can go smoothly if a person knows what problems to expect and is ready to deal with them. If a problem becomes too difficult professional help should be considered.