Everyone wants to be happy. Happy is fickle though.
Happiness often rises and falls on our circumstances. What would it look like in your blended family if you became the barometer instead of the thermostat?
If you want to know how to be happy in a blended family, here are 7 keys that put you in control of your family bliss.
As parents, we set the tone for our homes. Blended families can exude and reflect happiness because of the challenges they must overcome.
This is not ‘happiness in a can’. It is hard-earned through choices and decisions you agree on as a family.
Happy blended families achieve this dynamic way of life because of a few simple strategies that are adaptable for any family but are key for the blended family.
7 Keys To Help You Unlock Doors That Lead You Into A Happier Life In Your Home.
Just like a key turns on the ignition of your vehicle, or opens a door that is closed, these keys will help you open and ignite a happier family life.
Key # 1. Acknowledge and Validate The Struggle and Loss Each Family Member Has Experienced With A Divorce.
Have you ever walked through a devastating loss and it seems no one said much about it?
You struggled alone trying to sort through the feelings and grief of the situation that caused pain and loss.
Maybe people felt awkward or didn’t know how to address it but they said nothing. Sometimes, silence about it is harder and even more painful.
Saying something to acknowledge and validate pain and loss allows people to feel empathy from you concerning the loss they experienced.
Acknowledging the loss, sadness, and death of a dream they once had helps them to understand someone else sees their broken heart.
When we validate the sadness and loss our family members experienced it helps them heal.
It helps them let go of what they thought life would look like for them. It gives them permission to feel whatever they need to feel as they process the loss.
The acknowledgment frees them from feeling judged or condemned for their struggles in it. They don’t have to filter how they feel about it. This helps them find the courage to process their pain completely.
The empathy extended from you frees them from the false guilt of them feeling responsible for the other person’s part. The empathy you show them helps alleviate the burden they have carried.
Allowing family members to be frustrated from shuffling back and forth to the other parents’ home is healthy.
They won’t feel like they have to “pretend” and bottle up how much they dislike going back and forth.
When everyone is in an honest environment and able to talk about what is hard, sad, and frustrating for them they will feel validated and acknowledged in their pain.
The end result for the family will be strong, healthy bonding will occur because no one is hiding feelings that would potentially damage relationships because they weren’t allowed to be discussed.
Learning to cope with emotions and tension in a new family can be challenging. Working together by acknowledging each others emotional state is a good starting point.When everyone is in an honest environment and able to talk about what is hard, sad, and frustrating for them they will feel validated and acknowledged in their pain. Click To Tweet
Key # 2. Get Organized With A Master Calendar.
Nothing happens until we look at the master calendar. Combined families can result in chaos without systems and orders. Meal plans are your friend. As well as click and pull grocery shopping.
Say no to any add-ons to an already overwhelmed schedule of running back and forth to soccer practice and Tee-ball.
The fun but very taxed Saturdays with sports obligations can be long and interfere with other necessary things to get done.
Pulling together is vital in this season so crankiness from being tired doesn’t kick in during mid-season.
Many families live at the ball field eating a steady diet of hamburgers and hotdogs 2-3 nights a week.
Add in the combined hectic schedule of blended families transferring to their other parents’ home on different days and weekends and it can be stressful.
Often the overwhelm comes from doing less, not more.
An organized schedule seems daunting and just one more thing to do, but the work on the front end gives you a life of peace on the other end.
There is no more guessing because there is a calendar to help dictate what every person has going on throughout the month.
No more flying by the seat of your pants.
No more haphazard situations because you forgot about something because it’s written down on the calendar for all to see.
And on the calendar is scheduled fun for your family. Right there in black and white.
Also on that schedule is date night for Dad and Mom with no guilt attached even when a babysitter is hired. Organizing your busy life will preserve peace in your home.
Overwhelm comes from chaos. You can have chaos from a flurry of activities, yet maintain peace and order because it’s structured and you have a plan in place for everyone’s activities.Overwhelm comes from chaos. You can have chaos from a flurry of activities, yet maintain peace and order because it's structured and you have a plan in place for everyone’s activities. Click To Tweet
Remember, no plan is always a plan. Train everyone in the home that nothing happens without the calendar approval and then you will start to experience more peace and less stress.
Key # 3. Make Fun A Priority.
We’ve all heard the family that plays together stays together. Create margin for fun. It won’t automatically happen. It must be a choice for your family to play together. You don’t have to have unlimited resources to have fun.
Some things cost zero financially, like bike riding, hiking, and picnicking. Be silly together. Have dance parties and game nights. When your kids see you relax, they have permission to be free too. Kids reflect what they see, not what they’re told.
You might choose a movie night with snacks and everyone piles up outside with sleeping bags watching a movie on a projector. You could turn it into a neighborhood event and gather other families.
A sense of fun and togetherness breeds deep levels of security in a child. When time together is spent and fun is a choice we make our kids feel prioritized and our families flourish.
The environment of fun relieves stress and helps everyone relax and build stronger connections.
Stronger bonds start getting established through these meaningful times of connections. What we model gets repeated.
Modeling fun in our family lets everyone know not to take themselves too seriously all the time. Enjoy life together. Making fun a priority is how to be happy in a blended family.
Key # 4. Set The Tone in Your Home with Positivity And Encouragement.
A critical home causes pain and separation. With kids, they become angry and withdrawn. Internalizing the criticism causes the child to have low self-worth as they grow up. Feeling exasperated through the criticism they begin to walk in condemnation which erodes confidence within themselves.
But a home filled with encouragement and positive feedback helps everyone extend grace to one another and look for what they are doing well, not what they have done wrong.
This doesn’t mean to ignore things that are wrong but it does mean the way you address them produces fruit that everyone in the family will be tasting from.A home filled with encouragement and positive feedback helps everyone extend grace to one another and look for what they are doing well, not what they have done wrong. Click To Tweet
When a child feels praised they’re driven to please you. They feed off of the encouragement and embrace the possibility of what you see in them.
Helping them find their inner genius will keep them from being overwhelmed with discouragement about the things they don’t do very well.
If they see you acknowledging the things you are weak in they will see it as normal and not beat themselves up when they don’t do things perfectly.
Perfect is an illusion. It’s the bar no one can reach, based upon performance and extreme effort to attain something that can’t be reached. Perfectionism enslaves kids and adults alike. Our mantra should be ‘Direction, Not Perfection.’
Striving for excellence is different. Teach excellence by modeling to the kids to do your personal best and good enough is good enough.Perfect is an illusion. It’s the bar no one can reach, based upon performance and extreme effort to attain something that can’t be reached. Perfectionism enslaves kids and adults alike. Our mantra should be 'Direction, Not… Click To Tweet
We all have weaknesses and strengths. Teaching this by embracing your own imperfections.
This helps all family members see that perfect isn’t the goal but doing our personal best is a worthy goal. With encouragement towards each other, we can all thrive by supporting each other.
You may also want to see our list of the top 5 books for blended families.
Key# 5. Give Everyone A Job To Contribute To The Home Being In Order.
Everyone has a job. Tasks are assigned and everyone contributes to our home. Chore charts are your friends.
Consequences and rewards are based upon who completed their job. Did they take pride in doing a job well? Even little ones can have age-appropriate tasks.
I don’t have time isn’t an acceptable answer because we all live in the home so we all contribute to the order of it.
This teaches self-respect and contributes to the whole of our family unit.
A kind thing to do is offer to take on the task of a family member who is in a time crunch. This favor creates a gracious environment of doing favors for one another.
Now, before you start thinking everyone walks around whistling while doing chores, this isn’t always the case. Some weeks there is grumbling. Rise above it. Everyone has off weeks or days.
Give do-overs in attitudes and keep modeling good attitudes. Don’t fall into the trap of nagging or dismiss everyone and do all the tasks yourself because of a few grumblers.
They will get over it and remember, ultimately you are doing this so they eventually become contributing members of society.
Givers and contributors are what we want to produce, not takers or leeches in society. Everyone has something to give. Families who give chores are teaching kids to live unselfishly.
I witnessed a blended family struggle in the first 2 years of marriage because Dad worked out of town and the step-mom was left to be the heavy-handed one.
Dad was afraid the kids (7 total) wouldn’t like him because of the divorce. Because of this, He was light on giving them responsibilities to appease them.
He leaned towards being passive. His new wife was the opposite. She was strict about chores and ran a tight ship with accountability.
She was kind but adamant about chores and accountability.
Because they were not on the same page about discipline and chores, it created an atmosphere where the kids pitted the parents against each other. This, in turn, created division in the home.
The Step-Mom began resenting the kids and her new husband because she always looked like the bad guy while her husband looked the fun one and the hero when He came home from work.
This was unfair to the whole family. The kids manipulated. Dad was fearful and the new Step-Mom became angry.
They all headed to counseling to sort through the pattern they allowed to get established.
Slowly things improved as everyone peeled back the layers of fear, disappointment, and what responsibility or task each person had.
Progress was slow at first but once accountability was put in place, everyone started doing their part. No more pitting Dad and Step-Mom against each other. They started learning how to be happy in a blended family through compromise.
Key # 6. Apologize To One Another Quickly.
Who hasn’t blown it? Who hasn’t spouted off out of frustration because something built up? How did it build up?
Why did it build-up to this level and now we’re arguing?
Keep short accounts with each other. Make allowances for each other’s shortcomings by extending grace. Forgive quickly and often.
When we do this as a family we begin to close gaps that could start happening in our relationships.
A snide remark here a seemingly small offense there and gaps start to widen and our once connected family starts reflecting animosity towards each other.
The conversations start getting short and shallow.
All because pride got in the way of us humbling ourselves when we were inconsiderate to someone in the family.Keys to success in a blended family: Keep short accounts with each other. Make allowances for each other’s shortcomings by extending grace. Forgive quickly and often. Click To Tweet
How to be happy in a blended family has escaped our thoughts when petty offenses started taking root in our attitude.
Regrouping with a fresh start by owning your wrong actions or attitude will draw everyone back together and open hearts that were starting to close.
When everyone takes ownership by apologizing where they fell short, unity can stay established. This takes effort. It means ego’s can’t be in control.
Humble people are happy because they don’t have to be right and they are more concerned with making sure you are alright.
Key # 7. Make Your New Spouse A Priority And Love Each Other Well.
Every action has a reaction. Strong love displayed promotes health and strength within a family. Kids are very important.
They have great needs that require our time and attention but they have a need to see love modeled in a healthy way.
They need to see you have a priority with your spouse. This keeps kids from learning they are not the center of the universe within the home.
Maybe (and the probability is high) that in your former marriage they didn’t see love modeled in a healthy way. Maybe there were unhealthy patterns.
Strife and bickering and other things contributed to the demise of that relationship. It broke you, but you learned some things and gained insight.
This is your redemption time to help them unlearn things that were not healthy for them to see.
Kids reproduce later on in a relationship what they see continually within the home. Don’t believe a lie that too much damage was done.
You now have a new opportunity to show them what a life-giving relationship looks like. What love and support looks like.
You are now setting a new normal for your kids with strong love being seen on a regular basis. They see you forgiving each other when you blow it.
They see how you make time for each other in the demands of a busy work/ home life schedule.
They see how love heals and transforms relationships. Hope is given when love is seen by everyone in the family.
Final Thoughts on How to have a Happy Blended Family
Making sure your blended family is a happy union can be challenging, but it is possible. When you apply the keys mentioned in this article, you can unlock the potential of your new family.
Let’s recap the 7 keys to unlock doors that lead you into how to be a happy blended family.
- Key # 1. Acknowledge and Validate The Struggle and Loss Each Family Member Has Experienced With A Divorce.
- Key # 2. Get Organized With A Master Calendar.
- Key # 3. Make Fun A Priority.
- Key # 4. Set The Tone in Your Home with Positivity And Encouragement.
- Key# 5. Give Everyone A Job To Contribute To The Home Being In Order.
- Key # 6. Apologize To One Another Quickly.
- Key # 7. Make Your New Spouse A Priority And Love Each Other Well.
As you do these things and put principles into place, your family will be reflecting a healthy happy home.
It takes effort and discipline to implement these keys in your home. The effort put forth will keep your home running smoothly and will help to establish a unified home.
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