Are you part of a blended family? Do you feel as if you’re doing everything you can and your kids are still not respectful toward you, your spouse, or each other? It can be a difficult, sometimes heart-breaking, process to merge two families together. My husband and I do our best to remain intentional about our parenting – we are constantly conversing with each other in regard to how we’ve handled situations with our kids — even discussing what we can do better next time — and, I must say, it’s one the best ways we’ve managed to effectively blend our family together.
Here are ten ideas that we have implemented, are implementing, or plan to implement over time with our family. We have, at the time of this writing, two sixth graders and a ninth grader. This is how we are working to build a family we can be proud of.
- We pray alongside our tweens and teens. This is a work in progress for us, as neither my husband or I started our child-rearing as godly Christians, but our belief in God and knowing his everlasting mercies are now a growing part of our family culture. Not sure where to start? My father-in-law, Wayne, has a few words of wisdom to guide you.
- We take what our parents taught us and then put our own twist on it to raise our kids. For years, I thought that spanking my kids was the best way to discipline. When I look back on situations, I am reminded that I still had so much to learn. My husband spanked his daughter once and never did it again. You have to do what’s right for you and your family. I would encourage you to take some of those family beliefs you were raised with and turn them on their head. Although the fundamentals remain the same, the methods have changed with time. Don’t be afraid to try something new and, if you’re stuck for ideas on how best to discipline your kids, ask a trusted friend who has “been there, done that” before.
- We expect our family members to pursue excellence, compassion, and respect with everything we do (and continue to love them, even when they falter). My husband has very high expectations for our family, while I tend to be the realist (most of the time). Taking into account each child’s full capabilities, we expect them to show honorable intentions and always do the best they can do. When they fail in their attempt, and especially after a particularly tough conversation, we always tell them we love them and will continue to do so.
- We strive to demonstrate to our family we can keep an open mind and desire to always continue learning. I am currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and my husband is finishing up his Master’s degree. When we told our kids I would be quitting my full-time job to attend school full-time, they were excited and fascinated by the idea that Mom could be doing homework like them, too. I received nothing less than high praises from my family, which has encouraged me to keep up with my studies and show them a great example by taking pride in my accomplishments. “Hey, guys, I got two As this semester!” High five from all the kids (and my husband, too) make my day. We talk about current events in an appropriate-for-their-age manner and we field their questions by asking them questions about what they think, or how they would respond if that had happened to them.
- We admit mistakes and work together to look for real solutions. Sometimes this takes a little while to spit out, but we always feel so much better when we do. My belief is that it is not the disagreement that is the problem, it is how you react to the other person following the argument. If you fight, fight, fight and then go to bed angry or hold on to the resentment longer than that, your problems will eventually snowball out of control. It’s ok for your kids to see you argue, you don’t have to be perfect — just make sure they see you working out the issue in a kind and respectful way.
- We compliment and thank our significant other often and in front of our kids. My husband and I say “I love you” and hug each other often and in front of our kids. We tell each other “thank you” for making dinner, or helping with the kids during a tough time. We even flirt a little bit, too. It’s important that your spouse knows he/she is appreciated. It will carry them over to the next hard time.
- If it makes us happy, we aim to do it. We are a family that loves to be outdoors. Well, he and the kids are outdoor people and I’m slowly coming around. I maintain that camo is NOT a color. Our ninth grader son loves to play basketball and ride bikes. Our sixth grader daughter loves to do cartwheels, while our six grade son loves to ride a skateboard. Our whole family loves to shoot archery and my husband and I are so pleased to have found something we can all do together which doesn’t seem like exercise but is very, very good for us.
- We smile and laugh. A LOT. Life is too short to be serious all the time. Laugh with your kids, especially at the “dumb” stuff. My favorite laugh right now is when our oldest son puts his head out the truck window and yells, “Naaaaaaarrrrrrrrniiiiiiiiiaaaaaaa!”
- We strive to praise, listen to and love our children. I’d be lying if we were able to pull this off every single day, but we sure try. It’s important that we spend even more time with them as they are entering in their final years of being in our care. We must teach them how to be good citizens and we do that by encouraging them to be active participants in our family.
- Our kids are reading for at least 30 minutes before bedtime. This is aimed to help them, but really helps us, too. Haha! It’s nice to have a bit of cool-down time before we go to bed. Be still: we highly recommend it.
What are you doing to build a family you can be proud of? Did any of my ideas resonate with you? Sound off in the comments.