Creating a successful blended family comes with unique rewards and challenges. There are many things you and your partner can do to make the transition as smooth as possible for everyone involved. Here are just a few of the fundamentals you can incorporate when preparing to parent in a blended family:

Make Mutual Respect a Priority

It’s important to respect the feelings and freewill of each family member. You can’t make children love their new siblings or step-parent, but you can insist that all family members treat one another with civility and respect. Requiring respectful behavior can foster genuine good feelings as family members treat one another with consideration, and can strengthen the bonds of your new blended family.

Adjust Your Parenting Style to Create Consistency

Work with your partner to establish rules and routines that you both agree on, and that will keep things as consistent as possible for all of the children. Establishing a cohesive parenting style together will minimize disruption or resentment, and help your children to see that their natural parent and step-parent are united and want what’s best for the whole family.

Get to Know Each Other

Make time for children to get to know your new partner and their kids. Fun group activities or day trips can be good icebreakers, but it’s also a good idea to spend time together in everyday situations. This allows everyone to become comfortable with each other and acclimate to having new people involved in the day-to-day aspects of life.

Have Realistic Expectations

While some blended families seem to come together seamlessly, others take time to adjust, and that’s okay. Recognize that building relationships takes time and commitment. As long as everyone is respectful of each other, you and your partner are on the same page, and there is adequate time for new family members to get acquainted, your blended family can be successful and happy.