The Secret to Having a Successful Blended Family


By Kristy Gaisford, LCSW

First, realize there’s no such thing as blended. It’s more like stirring up pot roast with lasagna and calling it a new dish.

Next, have really low expectations. In other words, a bad meal is better than nothing when you’re starving, but it’s no one’s first choice. Have you ever heard anyone say, “I hope one day I grow up, get divorced and end up with a blended family?” or “I’ve always wanted to be a step-mom?” No, you haven’t.

Third, Have a thick skin. Don’t get offended when your kids tell you they don’t like stew mixed with lasagna. Don’t expect them to thank you for introducing you to such an interesting and exciting new meal. This is easier said than done.

Fourth, accept this fact right away: Your spouse will never have as much love and empathy for your kids as he/she does for their own. And You will never have as much love and empathy for your step kids as you do for your own. Don’t fight this fact. It will never change. Just be aware of it and try to be as fair and understanding as you can.

Fifth, play the LONG game. The very Long game. If you get discouraged with the daily ups and downs—you’ll never make it. In the words of the British, “Keep Calm and Carry On.” Maybe your kids will never thank you, but at least they’ll have the peace of mind that you have a spouse you love, who loves you. And they won’t have the burden of watching you grow old alone.

Finally: When there are good moments—Celebrate! You’ve just witnessed a miracle!