I have no idea how to blend a family. So I began a hunt for the secret to the perfect blending recipe. I found some good ideas but never found that one trick that always works. Well, as you can imagine, there is no secret to blending a family. The only thing we have to do is love, keep trying, study each other, and try again. Through it all, I have learned a few things that help me balance motherhood with stepmotherhood, and if you’re looking to blend your family or know someone who is, maybe these tips can help put together you secret blending recipe.
Rule #1 Pick the Battles – In the beginning of our blending, everything seemed like a battle that needed to be fought! Between me and my husband and me and my stepchildren. Before marriage blended us, my daughter and I lived a certain way and my husband and his girls lived theirs. The first stages of blending had me still living my way and them living theirs – talk about pulling your hair out, none of us were on the same page. So, I learned to pick my battles by writing down the values that are the most important to our family and starting there. Not all things are ‘go to the wall’ things, some are more important – I decided to battle if someone was getting hurt, if there was lying if they chose not to take part in our family (chores, eating what’s served, following through on consequences..) Everything else wasn’t worth the battle, not right now anyway.
Rule #2 Setting Expectation and boundaries – One thing that I’ve read over and over is that we all need boundaries in our lives. It sets us up for success because we know what is expected of us and it helps us set our own boundaries as we get older – ensuring others don’t walk all over us and choices are made with a value system. So after reading a few books and going through bible verses that help guide our parenting my husband and I made a behavior/consequence chart. This not only helped the girls know what is expected, it helped keep my husband and I stay calm because we had a direction of what the consequences are. It took out the pressure of guessing how to handle the situation. We have less yelling and more purposeful discipline. (most of the time 🙂 )
Rule # 3 See the Teachable Moments– We are blessed to have three young girls who tell us nearly everything. In the beginning, they would start sharing their troubles in the midst of home chaos, it was hard to focus on what they were saying in the middle of making dinner or scrubbing toilets, but I had to learn to stop and listen anytime they started to share their heart – because otherwise, I was teaching them not to come to me for support, that’s exactly what I’m supposed to be – support, a teacher, a life coach…. so my husband and I have promised that we will work hard on seeing the teachable moments. As our girls talk with us, we listen, ask questions a try not to tell them the answer, but with questions and suggested bible verses help them use their brilliant young minds to come upon the solution while we sit with them. Everything our children are going through is an opportunity to teach and bring them up in the way they should go.
Rule #4 Family Devotionals Daily – For many months I planned a Wednesday night mini Bible study for our family. I don’t say this to brag, but because I stopped doing it because it got to be too much with working full-time, running a farm, cooking, cleaning…So, I took the burden off myself and bought two devotional books and we will read and talk about a devotional every single night. Since we have a blended family one book will be for when we are all together and the other book will be for when we only have our partial family together. This will keep us all learning, growing, and blending not to mention opening up communication for more teachable moments. (The Purpose Driven Life Devotional for Kids and The One Year Book of Josh McDowell’s Family Devotional)
Rule #5 Spreading the Love – This is a hard one for me because I don’t want anyone to feel like they aren’t loved. I never want my biological daughter to feel like I love my husband and stepdaughters more, I don’t want my stepdaughters to not bond with me and feel unloved and I don’t want my husband to feel neglected as I try to figure out how to pour out love to the girls. So I treat everyone the exact same regardless of what the situation calls for. I need to get better giving love nonstop in any way the girls need it most. (their love language…) I need to make sure I’m telling them all the time how important and how loved they are. I need to spread the love without tiring and without worry.
Rule #6 Study, Study, Study – Watching the girls and my husband proves the beautiful uniqueness they have all been created with. By studying them, their personality, their humor, their worries, their behavior…I can give them what they need when they need it – I will be able to uniquely love each of them instead of treating them the same.