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Your blended family is a very complex and dynamic structure. Creating family memories, establishing rituals, and forging new traditions builds a foundation of support, structure, and safety.

Your goal as a parent in a blended family is to establish a safe, reliable, and consistent environment. This is the only way that everyone's individual needs can be met, which is the key to a healthy family. Especially in the early phases of blending a family, creating and practicing new behaviors builds trust and respect — the cornerstones to a successful and happy family.

Here are three steps you can take to ensure a positive and healthy dynamic in your family, which will ultimately lead to happy memories:

1. Create a family vision

A Family Vision is a template that represents the blended family's values, core beliefs, needs, and desires. Each member should write down their age-appropriate THREE wishes. Wishes can be anything from choosing the color of your room to wanting to be in charge of the family pets; the important thing is that each member needs to express his/her wishes and desires and is given permission to do this privately. Every family member needs to feel included and respected. Compile the list and create your new family vision. Post it where each member has a visual reminder to what they committed to do and what they need from their family.

2. Establish a weekly dinner 

Keep to the same day and time every week. Consistency fosters reliability. Make sure every family member feels welcomed and included. Teenagers can invite their friends. Young children can bring crayons and paper to the table. Keep the dinner easy, light, and fun. The goal is to connect with each other, not discuss loaded subjects. Therefore, deal with issues like grades and chores at other times.

3. Establish a date night for the couple

One of the ways to protect your new family and your new relationship is to make sure that both of you have alone time to connect with each other weekly without the kids. Establishing this ritual models to the kids that you respect and value your needs as well as the needs of the family. You and your new partner should take turns picking and choosing the activity. Keep it a surprise, which builds excitement in relationships (i.e. going to a movie, hotel room, romantic dinner, sporting event, etc.) The goal is that both of you have a built-in opportunity each week to get your relationship needs met.

 

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