My wife and I were talking recently about some friends that are getting married soon. They, too, will have a blended family. She said that the husband-to-be said he had been looking online for blended family tips, and everything he found talked about how small their chance of success was due to all the extra obstacles you will face as a blended family.
Melissa and I have only been married for a little over two years. And in those couple of years, I have picked up a few things about starting a blended family.
It starts out really hard. I went from being single, living in an apartment by myself, to being in a home with four females. They went from no guys in the home to have one large, goofy, really loud guy in the home. We bumped heads. We got in fights. We went through all kinds of adjustment pains.
It gets easier very quickly. Those first 6-9 months were rough, but things smoothed out very quickly. When a group of children see that two adults love them with all of their hearts, even when they have made their lives extremely chaotic, you will start to grow on them. Now that seems like a distant memory.
You have to show a lot of mercy. When it comes to stepchildren, the first thing they have to know is that you love them. I made the mistake of trying to step in as an authority/disciplinarian early in the race. What won them over, though, was the grace and mercy they received from me. (Note: I always used those moments to tell them that I was showing mercy because God showed me mercy first.) Now, I am an authority figure and disciplinarian, and that is not a big deal anymore.
Earn their trust the right way. When we first got married, I wanted to win these girls over so bad. I made promises and deals all the time to make them happy (because buying love works, right?), and, as it happens, some of those promises were broken. I had great intentions, but any show of dishonesty takes you several steps back in a blended family. I have adopted the policy of never making promises to children now. I can’t remember where I got that idea from (I think it was a book by Dr. Kevin Leman), but it makes sense. For me to make a promise means I can guarantee that my truck won’t break down, that I can make sure it won’t rain, or that nobody will rob the bank I work at today. Don’t make promises. Keep your word, always. Trust is so important.
You can do it. I am not a psychologist. My college education is not in childhood development. I am a regular, impulsive, sometimes ridiculous guy. And we are making it. We are not perfect. We have issues. As I write this, we have a storm being caused by something out of our control that we are dealing with. But we cling to God, and cling to each other. Every day we trust each other a little more. We are intentional about building our relationships. And when we mess up, we apologize and we move on.
Don’t let anybody talk you out of it. I would not trade this group of people for anything in the world. My life would be incomplete without them. It will be the same for you.