Dawn-Marie Potter

After having her first son in 2004 she went back to college in 2006 to become a Massage Therapist. Massaging part-time while being a full-time home schooling mom to her 3 children, she also advocates for embracing Autism (both her son's are diagnosed). Her passionate dedication to positive parenting is why she also does life coaching privately and speaks to groups/conferences about positive parenting of special needs children.

MH900444755 e1380170968190 Harmony Within Your Blended Family: 3 TipsWhen parents separate they are often surprised at the changes they see in their children’s behavior. While granted some changes can and often are due to the emotions they are trying to process from such a huge change as their parents separation as long as they are given support to help them deal with the change coupled with the knowledge that each parent loves them they will eventually be okay with the change from one home to two. However once they are accepting of the change, you can be baffled by the child’s poor choices within each home, all you want is harmony within your blended family.

It is at that time that the tips below can be very helpful to restore the harmony that comes from all of the family members being in sync with one another and with the goals, and expectations of both homes.

Keep Expectations Clear:

It is easy to assume that the children know and understand the rules, consequences and expectations within your home. After all they’re your children, how could they not know? But the truth of the matter is that it’s actually very easy for them to not know! It can be confusing for the children to go from one set of rules to another. Having a printed set of simple house rules can help to remind children of clear expectations, which in turn leads to more harmony within your blended family.

Figure out ahead of time what are your nonnegotiable rules. Things such as being respectful or telling the truth. Phrase your house rules in positive sentences such as “We always tell the truth”. By focusing the house rules on the positive behaviours you want to see instead of the negative ones you don’t you are keeping their minds focused on your clear expectations of how they should behave while with you.


Keeping Lines of Communication Open:

While it’s often said that it is important to keep the lines of communication open between both parents sometimes it’s easier to not make the effort required to do so. However, the effort that may be required in your specific situation is well worth it; for your child’s sake, and for the sake of having harmony in a blended family; your family. Why? Because sometimes children “act out” or make bad choices on purpose due to other circumstances in their lives such as being bullied at school. Sometimes it’s simply that they are having a great deal of difficulty mastering a specific trait such as being on time or taking personal responsibility for their own actions and the potential repercussions. By keeping the lines of communication open between the two sets of parents it’s easier and much faster for both to be able to identify that “yes, this is happening at both homes” figure out the reason it is and to then come up with a plan on how to help the child together.

But don’t stop at keeping the lines of communication open with just the other set of parents. It’s also vital to keep them open with the child themselves. By ensuring they know they have the right to be heard and that you will actively listen to their concerns, fears, hopes, etc. it helps to prepare them for the future by ensuring they are self-aware individuals. It gives them the reassurance that they can come to you whenever they need for a myriad of reasons. Additionally it will help to ensure that if they feel a certain house rule is unreasonable or “too much” for them that they can come and talk to you. You in turn can them explain why you’ve chosen the rules that you have which can lead to greater harmony within your blended family.


Don’t Go Overboard:

Sometimes a parent believes that by being the “fun” parent that has no rules it will endear them more to the child. The real truth of the matter is that children do indeed need rules and stability. They are already living in two homes instead of one, but by making both environments as consistent as possible it will help the child more. See the more you give in to demands, the more poor behavior choices are rewarded (even just through a lack of direct consequences) you are actually taking things away from your child in the long run. You are taking away the opportunities for them to learn to make good choices in a loving environment instead of out in the world as an adult completely unprepared for how little slack the rest of the world will give them when they make bad choices. You are in essence short changing them of becoming the best them they can be through loving guidance. As long as rules and expectations are explained, and reinforced with clearly defined consequences that are fair (as in all children regardless of who’s they are receive the same consequences for the same actions) and bad choices are spoken about with the understanding that yes it was a bad choice made by a good child then it’s by far better than going overboard with the “lack of rules” parenting some parents employ as a compensation for not being with the child every day.

By keeping expectations clear, the lines of communication open and not going overboard with a lack of rules you will increase the harmony within your blended family.

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