Getting along in a blended family: After your divorce

Parents of minor children need to get along even after a divorce. For instance, if your ex remarries, you will need to learn how to manage your interactions with the new spouse while caring for the children you share.

Blended families, the name given to families with stepparents or stepchildren, face many challenges. They have to learn to work together despite past conflicts -- which isn't always easy.

How can you make it easier for blended families following divorce?

First, you need to focus on the health and wellness of all the children involved. If your child has a new stepmother or stepfather, you should do your best to promote a positive relationship between them. You should also have, at minimum, a civil relationship with your child's stepparent. The overall goal needs to be your child's well-being and happiness. Getting along might not come easy, but being civil is the least parents should be able to manage.

Also, remember that each parent or person involved in a child's life has his or her own strengths. For instance, you might be an artist, the children's father might be great at sports, and the new stepmother might be fluent in several languages. Each parent has something different to offer, and that does nothing but help your child become more well-rounded. Give each person a chance to help your child grow and learn.

As a biological parent, it's a good idea to recognize the contribution a stepparent makes to your child's life. In many cases, stepparents really do "step up" and support their stepkids as if they were their own. By acknowledging this, you'll encourage a better bond between your separate families and, at the very least, should engender a recognition of gratitude.

The most important thing is to use good etiquette in your interactions with exes and stepparents. Whether you're angry about your divorce or frustrated with your ex-spouse's new family, you can choose to make this a comfortable situation for your child -- or a nightmare.

If you can put aside past differences and look forward to the future, you'll become a better parent. With the right attitude and arrangements in place, you can help your child feel more comfortable in this situation.

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