Published April 2011: eHow Family & Relationships
Finding the Perfect Mix for a Blended Family
How to Achieve Harmony While Embracing Differences
When Cherie and Steve Miller married 10 years ago, they knew it would be a challenge merging their existing families. Cherie had three sons, ages 12, 18 and 20, and Steve had four—6-year old twins, a 12-year-old and a 14-year-old. The idea of managing a nine-person household seemed a little daunting.
The Atlanta-based family had to set up a plan and work through the day-to-day challenges unique to blended families. How would they handle the emotional adjustment, living arrangements, discipline and even laundry with seven boys?
“While there’s always plenty going wrong, we choose to focus on the things going right and compliment one another for what each of us do right,” Steve Miller said. “That way, when we need to talk about things that are going wrong, they don’t overwhelm us.”
Finding a healthy balance while adjusting to a new way of life is something all blended families face while embarking on this new journey. While this change to the family structure requires some adjustment, it is possible to work out the growing pains by laying the foundation with a family plan and building bonds as you go along.
Laying the Foundation
In order to preserve the stepfamily unit, first and foremost, couples must plan, said a stepparent and family therapist Christina Roach, who is also president of Success for Steps, a go-to stepfamily resource.
“From informing one’s own children of his or her intention to remarry to aspects of daily living in the new family unit, tensions between stepfamily members can be eased by a well-thought out plan as it provides much needed structure,” Roach said.
The Millers’ first priority was to find a place for seven sons to sleep. This entailed building walls to make more rooms so that each child had his own privacy, Steve Miller said.
Household chores also were a factor in the Miller household. Each child was responsible for washing his own clothes and keeping rooms clean. Steve Miller and his wife quickly learned that they needed to lower their standards.
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