1| BLEND AS A FAMILY FROM DAY ONE
Let’s face it. Entering into the world of the unknown brings a host of emotions and anxiety. You have found the person you want to spend forever with and it’s a package deal. This is not the time to “wing it.” It’s time to create a game plan and follow through. FAMILY meetings were our secret weapon. Anyone can call a family meeting and we all attended.
Using the word FAMILY as frequently as possible set the tone as a gentle reminder we were one. Okay, don’t get annoying and overdo it. But don’t be afraid to call a spade a spade. Avoiding the word doesn’t change the situation it only allows bad habits and negative attitudes to set in longer. For those who are excited about the new family dynamic they are thrilled and hopefully their excitement is contagious. During family meetings allow everyone to share. Set the tone and remain consistent.
The one thing that is a nonnegotiable in our home are side deals. My husband and I realized early on that the kids would try to manipulate us. Maybe it was intentional or unintentional either way we slammed that door. NO SIDE DEALS. Both parents are on the same page. ONE VOICE ONE SOUND.
2| BUILD A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH THE CHILD
FAMILY bonding time is super important. My bond with my baby boy (who I didn’t physically give birth to), is unbreakable. Our relationship was built outside of his daddy. Just as he has a special bond with his older siblings. My husband has a relationship with the older two individually as well. We are ONE. Yet we are all responsible for watering our relationships independent of others. This is where trust is built.
My husband and I have different personalities and communication styles so this allows the kids to share freely with one of us. I’ve accepted the fact that my husband has better listening skills than me. I’m working on it. So the older kids tend to go to him for certain things first. However, our younger son comes to me. One family rule is NO SECRETS between the parents or the children. It’s common knowledge that things will always be discussed among the parents. If the kids are going out for the evening, they are responsible to reach out to each parent individually via text or telephone call. This keeps us both in the loop and avoids anyone trying to ignore, brush off or insult a parent with the “you aren’t my mom or dad” comment. It reminds everyone we are a FAMILY.
3| YOUR THOUGHTS MUST MATCH YOUR ACTIONS
This is a big one. This is where the rubber meets the road. Kids are intuitive. They see through the bullshit. So pretending to like them in front of the audience yet secretly despising them is a waste of time. Continuously focusing on what you don’t like. Meditating on why it won’t work. Topped with “this is not my child so I don’t care what they do”…is the WORST ATTITUDE to bring into a FAMILY.
Place all of your energy into what you want your relationship to be. Dream about the positive relationship frequently. So for a flower we create a foundation, drop in the key ingredient (the seed), water, get rid of any weeds that may kill them and patiently await the arrival of our beautiful flowers. Relationships require the same nurturing. Just as you have dreamt of the beautiful flowers blossoming, envision your relationship growing as well. Weeds will come in the form of people so be ready. JUST BE EQUIPPED WITH A POSITIVE MINDSET TO SHAKE OFF THE HATERS.
4| BE YOU
The biggest MISTAKE is trying to replace a parent or trying to “become” someone else. Some children like to remind us of the obvious. “You aren’t my mother.” Responding is key. “You are right, I’m not your biological mother. Yet that doesn’t change my love for you.” If you don’t truly love the child, then this isn’t the time to be nominated for an Oscar by lying. Just be genuine and kind with your response.
“My mommy does it this way.” Reminding the child that you and “mommy” are different in a polite and gentle way will open the lines of communication. Share with them they are special because now they have more parents to love them which comes with additional options and ways to do things.
Trying to fill a pair of shoes that were never created for you can go downhill quickly. You will NEVER master being another person. Plus who the heck wants to be a counterfeit for the rest of their life? Especially when you are a UNIQUE MASTERPIECE.
5| LET GO OF SELF-IMPOSED TIME FRAMES
No one has the ability to set us up for failure quite like we do. We create a vision in our mind and hold on tight. The red lights are flashing the siren is ringing but we are on a mission. This kid is going to love me. I’m going to give them 6 months strong and if it doesn’t work well….I TRIED. That’s ridiculous. It can take a teenage girl over 6 months to pick out a prom dress.
Allow the relationship to form ORGANICALLY. Be patient. Take the pressure off of yourself. It may take 1 month and it may take 3 years. The one thing I will say is work on you in the process. CHANGE YOUR MINDSET AND EMBRACE THE JOURNEY.
YOU ARE A FAMILY