A blended family can be a very stressful environment. Learning how to set good boundaries can be difficult. In this article, you will learn how to set boundaries in a blended family so your family can feel secure, close, and happy.
Resolving conflict is much easier when boundaries are set.
When kids and co-parenting is involved how much contact with your ex is reasonable?
The clearer these boundaries are the more you will contribute to an environment of peace and harmony with your spouse. What about teaching kids boundaries when two households are involved?
Consider placing a list of specific boundaries in a place where everyone is able to see them, it will help as a reminder when issues arise with kids. There isn’t your way, my way but our way that helps to establish good boundaries.
Consider being the support and reinforcement of what the biological parent decides is best. This takes the pressure off of you by eliminating you from having to be the lead instead of the biological parent.
When the couple stays in unity it flows down into the household. This won’t automatically happen, it happens on purpose with intentionality. Proactively discussing and establishing clear boundaries preserves all relationships in the family.
5 Things Boundaries Produce
Before we talk about HOW to set healthy boundaries, let’s look at five ways they help your relationship.
Respect is given and can’t be forced. When boundary lines are made clear honor and respect are natural byproducts. Boundaries preserve the good in you and keep the bad from violating your lines of demarcation.
Everyone desires to be respected and the environment we create can cultivate it or quench it.
Respect happens because you took the time to sit down as a family and talked about what makes you feel respected and what makes you feel disrespected.
We do teach people how to treat us. When we feel disrespected we withdraw from those relationships.What if you were clear in conversation with everyone in the household about what makes you feel respected, heard, and honored. How would that change the family dynamic? Click To Tweet
What if you were clear in conversation with everyone in the household about what makes you feel respected, heard, and honored. How would that change the family dynamic?
When kids are involved and you’re dealing with different rules at different houses it can be a challenge.
Approaching the subject with the other biological parent to attempt to be on the same page about discipline and responsibility is wonderful if they agree.
Strive for unity with them. Rise above your own animosity towards them or any underlying unresolved issues. Focus on the kids and being in unity about things being smooth as they transition between homes.
This is challenging. Ultimately, you can only control what’s happening at your house. Strive with the other parent to meet in the middle so consistent parenting can happen at both houses.
If at all possible, get on the same page and honor one another person’s wishes to create a win-win for both houses. But, what if you’re at an impasse with your ex?
Restrain yourself from venting about this to your child. This hurts them and puts them in the middle.
Talk with the kids about the differences in your boundary lines versus their other parent and let them know the clear consequences that will occur if they are violated in your home.
This conversation should happen prior to blow-ups that happen because nothing was made clear.
Avoid being the heavy disciplinarian with your step-children. Be the support person with your spouse to be a backup and support to what they are establishing.
The kids will respect the unity they see in you as a couple and they will see your united front and approach about boundaries in the family.
If this is a struggle, read this.
Sometimes, the establishment of peace in a blended family comes piece by piece as you’re learning how to set boundaries in a blended family.
When you walk into a blended home and you sense the peace that permeates the home it was intentional. They made boundaries a priority and structured it into their family dynamic.
Order establishes peace. You can have disagreements. Even an argument, but because the hard work of establishing boundaries was laid out peace was found.
Without boundaries, it’s a free-for-all. Everyone does what they think is best. This works if everyone is on the same page. This isn’t usually the case.
If one person thinks there is nothing wrong with using two towels every time they shower the person doing laundry eventually starts resenting the laundry piling up massively. Boundaries solve this.
The person who is in an emotional upheaval all the time throws up their drama on the other members in the family and it gets everyone worked up emotionally.
Now, peace is gone. Their drama was dumped on everyone again. Boundaries remind them about dropping the drama at the door when they come home.
This helps to reestablish peace. If you have trouble resolving conflict to get peace, read this.
Boundaries remove confusion. They paint things black and white and remove the gray zone for everyone. Clarity is kind.
You have markers on your property line that show you where your property ends and where yours begins. There are markers to let you know where your responsibility starts and ends.Boundaries remove confusion. They paint things black and white and remove the gray zone for everyone. Clarity is kind. Click To Tweet
Violations happen when things are unclear and someone trespasses on your property. At times when we don’t have things marked clearly, confusion arises, it’s not intentional it was accidental but it still bumped up against you.
An offense could possibly take root because the neighbor started moving over into your territory. It was innocent because they were not aware they had overstepped into your property.
We do this in relationships when we are unclear about something we assumed they should have already known. We think it should be obvious or easy to see but they aren’t you.
Clarifying things by communicating well when something feels like a violation to you will help you establish boundaries. These boundaries help you see where clear lines are so offenses do not start piling up.
It might be in your relationship and how much communication is necessary with the ex. Clarity comes when we discuss this with our spouse and don’t brush it off while secretly being bothered by it. Be wise as you co-parent with your ex.
Discuss what is necessary but not more than that which could breed insecurity in your spouse. Keep the autonomy with your spouse intact.
Security comes when we are loved well, and feel like we are a priority. Women especially feel secure when finances are in order.
Security flows down to the kids when the boundary lines are drawn and they define that as parents by stating: We love you too much to allow you to be out of control. Thus creating security for the child with boundary lines.
Security within the relationships of a blended family can also happen because we protect the time we have together as a family.
We have boundaries with devices, TV, how much time is spent alone in your bedroom. We encourage time together as a family. Together-ness creates an environment for security to be established.
Security comes from making dinner as a family a priority. This requires us to say no to other things so we can say yes to this family value. What would it look like if you set a boundary of a minimum of 3 nights a week eating together as a family was the priority?
It can be challenging but this goal and boundary help bring security as we discuss the day together. We celebrate the wins of each child and encourage them in the areas of struggle or disappointment.
Have you ever been listening to a song and someone was off on their part? What was supposed to blend and be pleasing to the ears sounded way off. It was so far off it affected the other parts. It was impossible to enjoy the song even though everyone else was on their part.
This is what happens relationally in our blended family if someone is violating a boundary. Everyone else is respecting the boundary line drawn but one person in the family decided to go rogue.
They were violating the part they agreed to and it was affecting everyone. This is what happens when someone oversteps or violates a clear line. There isn’t harmony. Even with everyone else doing their part.
It becomes necessary to pull the one aside and work on their part so they can contribute to the group as a whole.
Sometimes, they don’t realize it’s affecting everyone and it can’t be ignored, it must be addressed so we can be unified. When this is done we can be back in harmony with a little adjustment being made. Love enough to confront the violations so unity can stay preserved.
4 Things You Can Do To Set Healthy Boundaries
To set boundaries in a blended family, it is important to be clear about how you want to manage and how flexible you are with the other members of your family.
1. Decide what is important.
This may sound like a needless step, but many couples try to define boundaries before they have identified what they value and determine to be important.
Take time alone with your spouse and identify the deal-breakers. Decide what is truly important. Work together to make sure you agree so you can develop a plan of action that works for both of you.
2. Write it down.
This is an important step. Several things happen when we write things down.
First, it becomes a code of conduct we can live by. The written document becomes our family law (in essence).
Every community functions because of certain laws (written or unwritten) that govern people’s behavior. Your family ‘boundary document’ will help you create this code of conduct.
3. Communicate your values clearly to everyone in the family.
Communication is the key. This shouldn’t be done as a dictator, however. The value in working together to create your boundary code is that everyone has input. Once it is agreed upon and written down, it can be communicated in a clear way.
For example, are you in charge of parenting, housekeeping, or finances? This should be discussed openly with your spouse and the children involved.
4. Put it into action.
Communicating boundaries is all about how you live your life. But it is also necessary for them to be followed, in some cases, by others in the family. It is very important to model your values and lead by example of how you want the family to conduct itself.
This will make the desired behavior change that much more likely to occur. And don’t worry if what you have written down doesn’t work or isn’t perfect. As long as everyone knows what the goals are and agrees on them, then this ‘code of conduct’ has done its job and that which is written out will have been followed.
Final Thoughts on Boundaries in a Blended Family
In this article, we discussed five ways boundaries help families stay on track. We also looked at four practical steps to create boundaries for your blended family.
- 5 Things Boundaries Produce
- 4 Things You Can Do To Set Healthy Boundaries
Putting these things into place will reflect the boundary lines that have been well established. It may take some time but persevering in them will pay off with great dividends in your home.
No one does well or benefits where there aren’t clear definitions of where boundary lines fall. It keeps everyone guessing. When they are clearly marked it removes the guesswork. It brings unity without strife because things are established so we can learn how to function as a blended family.
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