Blended family and Summer Fun!
Blended family & Summer Fun!
You and new spouse have decided to make a life together and form a new, blended family that includes children from both of your previous relationships.
What lies ahead can be both a rewarding and a challenging experience. It can take a long time for a blended family to begin to feel comfortable and function well together. In order to make the new blended family work balance must be found to accommodate everyone’s competing interest.
The reality is that along with the great joy and expectation is that your kids or your new spouse’s kids may not be nearly as excited. They’ll likely feel uncertain about the upcoming changes and how they will affect relationships with their natural parents. They’ll also be worried about living with new step-siblings, whom they may not know well, or worse, ones they may not even like. To give yourself the best chance of success, it’s important to start planning how a blended family will function before the marriage even takes place.
What to do to prepare for the blended family experience:
- Biological parents should make time in their schedule's to hang out with their bio-children. As much as a child may like their stepparent, their summer visit is really about spending time with their biological parent.
- Biological and summer stepparents should plan "team building" activities to strengthen the blended family. These activities should be fun, encouraging and promote healthy family discussions.
- Biological parents should make sure that their children have structured activities to do during the day. These activities may consist of camps, sports, groups, and summer school. Young children may attend a daycare.
- Biological and summer stepparents should create a space for the child/children who will be staying in the home during summer. The 'space' may consist of a permanent summer cot/bed, a special drawer/closet and/or anything to show the child that they have a 'place' in the blended family. Giving the child their own space helps them feel like a member of the family.
- Biological and summer stepparents should get plenty of rest. First time summer stepparents will discover that parenting can be physically, emotionally and mentally exhausting. Getting the proper amounts of sleep will help parents maintain good physical and emotional health.
- Summer biological parents should collect any documents that are necessary for travel, to maintain the child's health and/or enroll the child in summer programs/activities. These documents may include vaccination records, birth certificates, state or school issued identification/passport and health insurance cards.
- Custodial biological parents should discuss summer living arrangements with the child. Children may worry about not seeing their friends or being left "out of the loop" during the summer. Parents can make provisions for the child to keep in touch with friends and family while they are away. Calm the child's apprehension about traveling by informing the child where he/she will stay, specifying the mode of travel (plane, boat, train, car) and determining the length of stay.
- Non-custodial biological parents should increase communication with the child as the time to visit approaches. This is also a good time to discuss the child's hobbies and interests. Doing so will make it easier for summer biological parents to know what activities they should register their child for. Remind children who are apprehensive about leaving friends that they will be able to contact them during their stay.
- Inform the child of the household rules. Don't assume that because they are obedient and/or make good choices while in their custodial parent's home that they will automatically know what to do in your home. Informing the child of the household rules gives the child your standards for behavior and the tools to make healthy choices in your home.
- Give the child time to adjust. Don’t try to force them to like their stepparent or to instantly get involved with life in your household. A child may need time to assess their thoughts and feelings. They may also need time to adjust to household differences such as curfews and bedtimes.
- Create a living space for the child. Just as the child has a space in his/her own home that they can call their own; they need that for their summer home too.
- Provide structure/routine. Children that attend school spend a lot of time in a structured environment. Participating in activities provides an environment conducive to making friends. Making friends may help the child adjust to the summer living situation.
If you have questions or concerns about your obligations or rights under Florida law, please contact me to discuss your situation. I pride myself on offering caring, compassionate and experienced representation for all types of family law matters in Central Florida. To learn more, call The Marin Law Firm, P.A., at 407-680-1867, or write to us using this online form.