Stress is a common blended family problem. A powerful tool to manage stress when blending families is to better understand the family environment. When you understand the elements of a family environment, you can proactively create a family structure that is predictable and comforting. Did you know a big component of self confidence for children is a predictable environment? A predictable environment, like your family, helps children build confidence, because they better understand what is expected of them and what to do to be successful–obey rules, be helpful and kind, do chores, follow schedules, etc. This structure is also the first, and best tool for preparing children for other social environments: school, work, with friends, etc. It is a powerful tool to establishing BALANCE in your family. And balance eliminates stress.
Take a look at the elements of a family structure to get a better understanding of how you can use your family structure to solve common blended family problems.
Understand the Family Environment
The 5 elements interwoven into the family environment:
Notice the graphic to the right illustrates how relationships link parents and children together with rules and work. These relationships are the power. Rules are created and carried out more effectively, and tasks (chores, homework) are more easily maintained when strong, healthy relationships exist.
Pay attention to the style of parenting you use, and the results. Perhaps you think rules are most important. Consider how that parenting style affects stress levels and the development of children, for example.
If balance is missing from these five elements, one parent may value work over relationships and 1) Focus more on their work more than they do relationships with children, 2) Focus more on if their children are performing than the development of their relationships with children. Remember, balance is the key. You can do both–expect work/performance, and develop relationships.
If you focus on positives and developing strong relationships, involving communication, you will avoid feeling like you have to react to negatives and looking for ways you can exert more control over children.
Valuing rules without relationships, is similar to tyranny. Inevitably, any form of child management based exclusively on parental authority or rewards (RULES) leads children to sense that the power and control in their lives are not internal–that they do not have control over themselves. Their selective attention often becomes focused on what is outside rather than within them. What follows is quite understandable. Children develop strategies to get what is wanted or needed from these external sources of rewards instead of paying attention to the development of inner qualities. Even if they comply at home and look like they are doing alright, they may become dependent on someone else telling them what to do, rather than feel more responsible for themselves. They may be more interested in clothes, popularity, and social status than in being morally mature. They may be more vulnerable to the influence of friends who offer drugs, sex, etc.
There are many positive examples of people who find rewards in their relationships with other people and place a high priority on them. But you might attach so much importance to your relationships that they control your life. For instance, there are people who think pleasing others is the most important priority. Such individuals might be very nice, easy to get along with, and likable. However, they may be late for appointments because they were talking with someone. They may have difficulty finishing their work, appear to be unable to organize what they do, and live in a world of excuses. They might employ deception in order to avoid assuming responsibility for what they need to accomplish or for rules and requirements they fail to obey.
The key to eliminate stress in a blended family is to create balance in the work, rules and relationships of your family.