Tips for Co-parenting in a Blended Family


In this day and age, it's becoming more common to be in a relationship with someone that has children or you may have children of your own in combination with your significant other which make up a blended family. I receive a lot of questions about co-parenting and since there is no manual that you receive to learn how to co-parent nor step-parent I felt it was important to share my experience to help others. 


My husband and I have a blended family so I can speak from my own personal experience and what we have learned over the years parenting our son. Our situation is not typical of what society would call “normal”, but collectively we chose to make our family happy and healthy for all involved, not just the child we share. Don’t get me wrong, we are human and are real people, so yes, we have had our struggles on the journey and endured growing pains along the way, but we have made some amazing memories as a blended family that definitely overshadow the more trying times.  We just had to find a way for the four of us to function that would work for our family. The reward is definitely worth it when we look at our son who is now 23 years old.  
Here are my tips to co-parent in a blended family! All of the things I am going to talk about work together hand-in-hand.
1. Understand the roles in your family.
It is important to understand the role you will be playing and all other parties play in your family. For the biological parents, you must understand that whomever your ex decides to be with will be around your child and whether you like it or not will play a part in parenting of that child. For the “step-parents,” you must understand that your role is not to take the place of the biological parent, but to be a support system to help mediate and decision alongside of them.
2. Put pride aside. 
Understanding this is key! Often times we allow our own selfish feelings or needs to overshadow what is really important.  Negative comments stem from pride such as your own personal unwillingness to let go of hurt or pain from the past, disappointment, and feelings that may come from a selfish place. All of these feelings are about YOU and not about the child. 
3. Respect one another & exercise self-control.
It is so important to respect each other in a blended family. You will not always like each other or what one another has to say, but you must be respectful. Everyone is entitled to their own feelings and opinions, but if you don’t see eye-to-eye its okay, agree to disagree instead of the unhealthy back and forth.  It so disheartening how often people talk openly about a parent that is not present in front of a child.  Keep conversations that are meant for adults, just that, for adults only. Children should never hear negative conversations from any party. For example, maybe you are on the phone having a conversation with your girlfriend and your child is in the same room. He/She hears you venting your frustrations about how your ex is a “deadbeat.” This type of conversation is totally inappropriate and unacceptable!  It is irrelevant how true or untrue the statements you are making are, a child should NEVER hear something like that and it’s disrespectful!  Remember, you can’t take back what you say once you say it.  Things of this sort children internalize and will scar them. In another example, maybe you are talking to your friend about how you don’t like your ex’s new boyfriend or girlfriend and your child hears that.  This type of conversation puts a lot of stress on a child to feel like they have to appease you by also disliking that person.  A child should never be coerced or influenced to dislike anyone.  They need to be free to develop their own feelings without the burden of disappointment of one of their parents.  You are in control of YOURSELF!  You are the only one that can be in check of your emotions, attitudes, etc. This is a tough one! You will definitely have moments when you will fall short in this area, but if you remember to operate out of respect this will get easier. 
4. Build a relationship with those you will be co-parenting with.
I know some people are reading this and thinking this chick is crazy, but this is such an important part of co-parenting. After being a “step-parent” for 14years of my son’s life I know how important this is. Building a friendship with my son’s mother, her husband, kids, and even her family has been great for our son.  He is a happy and well-adjusted young man because he has seen us all be friends. Yes I said it, FRIENDS! We’ve spent many years getting to know each other and growing our friendship because we all wanted our son to know that we not only like one another, but we love one another.  I know people are reading and gasping, but think of it this way, how could I not love the other person that was part of my son’s creation and who he is? 
5. Keep the lines of communication open & be a united front. 
Communication in any family is paramount, but with a blended family it can be tricky when pride, disrespect and other factors come into play.  It is possible to communicate effectively without fighting and carrying on, if you use cognitive thinking before you act.  You have to communicate with all parties, ALL OF THE TIME! Make decisioning for the child you are raising with part of the conversation with everyone involved. For example, if we grounded our son we made it a point to communicate so she could also adhere to that action in her home or vice versa. If you aren’t a united front, children are smart and will play that to their advantage. However, if you are in constant communication and operated as a united front, a child will be less likely to sneak one past you! 
What it all boils down to is when you are part of a blended family, we all have one thing in common and that is love for same child. At the end of the day, if you always keep the well-being of the children at the forefront of your mind remembering to operate out of love for them, you will never go wrong. 

1 comment

  1. Excellent article . Sometimes we do let our egos get in the way . I love it when different parties can work together for the benefit of the entire family . I wish all families would take these factors into account . No need for the children to suffer just because the adults can not get it together

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