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Parenting: Blending Familes - 9 Universal Laws

The law of -ing.

The law of -ing refers to a misnomer in the way we talk about this special kind of family. By calling them "blended families," we imply that blending two families is a one-time event, and all the work is done. Nothing could be further from the truth. "Blending families" is a much more accurate term because it implies that putting two families together is a lifelong process with lots of work to do.

The law of Brady.

Let's get this one out of the way. "The Brady Bunch" was a TV show, complete with scripts so everyone knew what was coming in advance, with as many takes as necessary to get it right. Blending a family is real-world stuff. And it's all live!

The law of pace.

Allow your new family to develop and set its own pace. Don't try to force relationships or closeness.

The law of instant love.

Related to the law of pace, the law of instant love states that you cannot realistically expect instant love to occur between siblings and children and adults. Love and relationships take time.

The law of magnification.

In many of the blending families that I have worked with, at first it feels like everyone is walking on eggshells. Walking on eggshells makes it feel like every little issue is a huge deal, on which rides the success or failure of the family.

Watching out for this law can help you keep things in perspective.

The law of loyalty.

I've yet to work with a family where this wasn't eventually a powerful issue. Just consider the situation above. We've got four kids, all in various stages of recovering from the trauma of divorce or perhaps death, coming together into a new family and developing new relationships and loyalties. Yet they still have loyalties to their previous families. This is hard enough for adults to figure out, much less children.

It's like what a 10-year-old boy in a family I once worked with said: "How can I love Daddy and Jim (stepfather) at the same time?"

The law of permission.

Here's one answer to the loyalty dilemma. As much as possible, even though it can be incredibly difficult, it's crucial that kids have permission from as many of the adults as possible to form new and loving ties with members of the new family.

The law of step, part 1.

A parent once told me he didn't like the word step because it implied less of a connection between the family members. As this father put it, "While I am not the biological father of two of our children, I am a father and dad to them. And they may be the biological children of my wife, but they are also my children."

The law of step, part 2.

As a mother of a blending family once told me, "Yeah, we're a stepfamily - we're going to be taking lots of steps together."

Visit for tips and tools for thriving during the teen years. You can also subscribe to our f*r*e*e 5 day e-program on The Top 5 Things to Never Say to Your Teenager, from parenting coach and expert Jeff Herring .

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