Managing blended families with a NEW BABY!
His, Hers, Theirs. It’s not toothpaste, shampoo, or cars we’re talking about. It’s children with one set of original parents and one or more step/second/other parents. About 40% of all married or cohabitating couples with children in the U.S. have at least one remarried partner, with at least one child. This comes to about 24 million couples.
If you’re among the many women who became a second wife and stepmother on her wedding day, you know that your marriage and family life is a little more complicated than the typical couple. However, you entered your marriage full of determination and optimism that things would work out between you and with your spouse’s children. You are as prepared as you could be for what’s ahead. Plus, you and your husband agree: you will create a new family together, and you will have children of your own with him.
Fast forward, the baby is born, and suddenly you realize that you don’t remember half of what people told you would happen once you’re home alone with the kid. Your husband really wants his children to be involved; it’s their new brother or sister, after all. The step-kids are excited but somewhat tentative. And you hardly want anyone to touch your first and maybe only baby who is too precious to be passed around. What to do?
- Recognize that you are not alone; you and your husband must commit TOGETHER on how best to handle your adjustment to all the baby’s routines, while being comfortable when his children come to visit with you and the baby. The two of you should have a family meeting (appropriate to the children’s ages) to answer their questions about the baby.
- Pull out the computer and seek both online and professional resources that seem to match your needs. There are lots of qualified people and support groups who share the same overall experience and can provide ideas help you remotely or in person.
- At the same time remember that your particular family situation is unique to you, so you and your husband have to figure out how all the personalities can be accommodated. He should take the lead with his children’s routines. And when they visit with you and the baby, guide the children who are old enough on how to hold, touch and play with the baby.
- Accept that blended is just a phrase somebody made up. Remarried families develop all kinds of relationship models; mashups based on parent temperaments, ages of the children, lifestyle and custody arrangements. You and your husband should be of one mind as to what works best for the two of you. And call it what you want!
- Return to the confidence and optimism you had at the beginning of the marriage. If you and your spouse can be resilient, unified, fair and loving in your approach to all the children, your family will evolve on very solid ground.