Jo Ball

Article Summary:

Discussing communication in the blended family with a look at men versus women.

Communication in the Blended Family

When working with Stepfamilies, either the birth parent or the step it becomes apparent pretty quickly that there is a need for an improvement in the communication between the two parents in the home (step and birth). Talking is very important in every family, but in a stepfamily it becomes all the more vital.

Families where both mum and dad are living together have had time to learn and grow together. Both adults have usually had time courting before a family came along. So by the time children came on the scene both adults are pretty comfortable with each other. As the family developed the couple would talk and learn as they went.

In a stepfamily however there is already an existing adult-child relationship. And now another adult, and possibly more children in the picture. The two adults are going through a getting to know you stage with key stakeholders watching from the sideline.

It's this set up that makes it so important for the adults in the family to talk. We have to realise that our stepfamily set up doesn't work the same way a family with both birth parents living with their children does.

Mark Brandenburg is an expert on fathers being great parents. He shares some excellent tips for men who want to be effective fathers. He says:

  • Have a great relationship with your wife.
    You are the main role model for your children, and your relationship with your wife is the main source of information for them.

He goes on to give some ideas on this point.

  • Make your wife a priority; don't let your relationship fade into the background because of the kids.
  • Be a great listener.
  • Establish a united front as parents.

It's a second chance for most of us and both parties, yes that's you too men, need to talk.

So, ladies, take your men gently. They've probably got good reason to go hot under the collar whenever they hear the words "we've got to talk". If the only time you approach them to talk is when you want to vent, moan or complain.

  • Talk to your man all the time.
  • Help him to build some positive emotions around talking.
  • Talk about nice things in the family more often than the negative things.

And men, next time your woman wants to talk, there's no need to be filled with dread. Be grateful that you have an opportunity to grow and nurture both your relationship and your family. Be the best partner and father you can be.

Over to you - ladies, make it your goal to have a ratio of 1:3 negative to positive talks about the family when you talk to your partner. Men, make it your goal to have at least one constructive, planned family conversation with your woman each week.

Jo Ball, LCA, Dip, is a stepfamily coach and founder of The Stepfamily Coach that offers support and advice to divorced or separated parents and their new families. She's worked with many families helping them to move beyond the stress and strain of blending a family so they achieve happiness and harmony at home.

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