Make Sure You Are Certain Of Your Situation
It’s not very romantic, but Rose Stone, head of advice and information at Gingerbread, the UK charity for single parent families, says before you go any further with this plan, you need to look into how becoming a blended family will affect you financially, to avoid any unforeseen issues that could unsettle your kids.
“Think about your housing – it’s worth checking your rights and responsibilities. Your status may change once you’re living with a new partner,” explained Stone.
“Your finances will also change. In particular, benefits and tax credits you receive will need to be recalculated to take into account that you’re in a couple family now. Be sure to check your situation if you’re receiving tax credits or universal credit as there are new rules for families with more than two children, for example.”
Be Open With Your Children
Once you and your partner are certain you’d like to become a step-family then don’t delay in telling your children your plans.
“It is important to talk openly to your children about what this means and how things will be different, so that you can support them through this transition,” explained Stone
By keeping them in the dark for a longer period, you might feel like you’re protecting them, but they’ll only end up feeling left out and as thought changes have been sprung on them.
Understand That This Might Not Be Good News
Although this is an exciting time for you and your new partner, you cannot expect that from day one your children are going to be on board with this idea.
Cathy Ranson, editor of parenting video community ChannelMum advised: “Understand there maybe upset. Some blended families form as the result of death, divorce or relationship break-ups. There may be baggage and pain from both the adults and the children, so give everyone the space and support they need.”
Reassure Your Children About Your Relationship With Them
Starting in the earliest conversations with your children, make a special effort to focus on how much you love them, and that becoming a blended family doesn’t change that at all.
Ranson advised: “Be clear and explain they are your number one priority before you think about introducing then to a new partner and the other children.”
This reassurance will need to continue as your relationship progresses.
Jackson-Barrett said: “My children have struggled to learn to share me and my husband (who they call dad) with two other children.”
“We work hard to try to give every child some attention, and to make sure no-one feels left out. We also try to make sure we have ‘family time’ when they’re here – it might be a walk in the local park, or sitting together to watch a nature documentary.”