Families that come together post-divorce may need a different terminology than “blended family.” Blending something together connotes losing individual identities and forming a new collective identity. Invariably, something is lost when you attempt to form a new family unit with members with divided loyalties. Every member of the family may need reassurance that they matter and their feelings will always be considered.
Bringing together families, similar to business mergers, takes being a good policy maker, strategic planning, and listening carefully to your children’s spoken and unspoken communication. Literally, the success of this relationship can hinge on initial meetings and assisting your children through this significant milestone in their lives. Remember that you may be thrilled at the prospect of starting a new life and living with your new partner, but children may see this as more validation that you and your ex will not get back together. Even if your new partner is wonderful, your children may see this person as threatening and taking over their other parent’s role. While you do not need your children’s consent to date or have someone move in, it is fairly crucial that you have their assent to do so. This can be a fine line between allowing children to have too much power vs. not feeling heard. Children, especially older ones, are generally looking to be allowed a chance to feel heard and validated.
Children are also looking to make sure that they remain a priority in your life and not that you are looking to start a new family and leave them behind. Therefore, it is very important that you don’t introduce anyone to your children unless you feel fairly certain that this relationship will be a lasting one. It is damaging for your children to meet a string of people who may be “new mommy” or “new daddy.” It affects their capacities to attach in a healthy manner to people.
Here are some mindful steps you can take to help build a pathway to your new and restructured family and help your children know that they matter:
These and other helpful tips are available on DIVORCEWORKS app, a handy tool for people navigating the emotional journey of divorce and restructuring families.