Composing a blended family

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Composing a blended family
Composing a blended family

When you're ready for another love and you want to pair the two families, how do you put all the chances on your side so that the new cohabitation is harmonious?


Our first union didn't last. Once the wounds are healed, our heart is ready for another love. Everything is fine. Then, one day, the possibility of going to live together, by pairing the two families, appears on the horizon. How to put all the chances on our side so that the new cohabitation is harmonious?

There is no recipe to follow, nor a guide guaranteeing guaranteed success, but by planning this step well, you can avoid a lot of headaches. A new couple who decides to live under the same roof, with their respective children, is first of all a major upheaval in the lives of children and even adults. “We start with winning conditions when the two parents do not have a conflicting relationship with their ex-spouse. This avoids exacerbating the reasons for bickering and does not become one more stressor to be reconciled within the new family. This way, we avoid adding fuel to the fire and seeing ex-spouses speak ill of the new spouse,” suggests Lorraine Vallée, psychologist in practice.private.

A stressful stage for children

Sometimes for children who still hope that their parents will “get back” together, this move becomes the annihilation of dreams of reconciliation. Also, they need to be reassured. “Parents should remind their children that their relationship is there forever and you will never separate from them. They must reiterate to them that the separation is not because of them and that it is an adult problem. And above all, you have to tell them that they have permission and that it's okay to love mom's new partner or dad's partner and that this love takes nothing away from the love they have for their mom and their dad,” notes Michelle Parent, psychologist. This conflict of loy alty is sometimes difficult to live with for the child who prevents himself from investing in a new relationship with the new spouse for fear of hurting the other parent.

Therefore the importance for parents to act… like adults

“Parents must make a distinction between the marital couple and the parental couple. They must mourn the marital couple that no longer exists because of the separation. But they will form, forever, a parental couple. The suffering linked to the break-up of the marital couple influences the parental couple. The more the adults as parents mix in their discussions elements which belong to the old married life, the more the children will suffer. Conversely, the more the mourning of the conjugal couple that it formed is well resolved, the more they arecapable of recognizing the good mother or the good father that the other is for their children, the more the latter feel loved and secure. We must make the distinction: "he was not a good lover" does not mean that he "was not a good father". If the distinction is made well and the parental couple is well and respects each other, the children flourish,” says Michelle Parent.

And when the children feel good, when they don't experience conflicting loy alties and they still feel loved, they will have a better chance of adapting to the new cohabitation.

Nothing is a foregone conclusion

Even if everything seems in place for the move to be a success, the fact remains that this new step is a major upheaval. “The child does not direct the life of the parents, but they must be sensitive to what the little ones are going through. They may try to put themselves in their children's shoes by imagining that they are being offered to go and live with someone they don't know very well or don't like very much, sometimes even in a another city and that this will have the effect that they will have to change schools, move away from their friends, etc. It is not obvious that the child will jump for joy”, illustrates Lorraine Vallée. Parents must therefore act… as adults. All the adults involved must therefore be mature for the transition to be smooth and harmonious. “It is sometimes difficult for an ex-spouse to see the other parent go to live with his new lover. If the old relationship is not “settled”, it is like anail in the coffin difficult to accept”, nuance Lorraine Vallée.

We don't tell our kids on the sly that we're moving next month and the house is already bought. “It takes a certain tact for the idea to make its way. We remember that the child did not choose this situation and that he suffered it,”she notes.

The help of time

As with many other things in our lives, time is often at a premium. “Accepting that the process is long and giving ourselves time is sometimes an obstacle to our project. We would like everything to go quickly, specifies Michelle Parent. It is important to give yourself the time to “be born” as a reconstituted family. Usually, we go from the stage of a couple to that of a couple in desire of a child, then a pregnancy occurs, and there it is a whole different thing. You have to give yourself time. Moreover, by preparing the children for a possible cohabitation, by making them see the positive sides, by listening to their fears and by finding certain compromises, we can better understand their resistance, we can adjust to it sometimes (we move to the same city to avoid changing schools), and we try to make the project more interesting for them. “There is no point in forcing or imposing to make it work at all costs! We really wouldn't leave winning,”notes Lorraine Vallée.

Reconciling differences

If at Sophie's, on Saturday morning, we sleep in and stroll in our pajamas and at Jules', it's cleaning and shopping day, how do you reconcile all this ina new common house? Of course, we want to avoid friction, so it is better to observe the lifestyle of each family before cohabitation. Already, when the couple is dating, it is easy to see which habits are the same and which are different.

By anticipating difficulties or potential sources of friction and talking about them before moving, you can avoid confrontations on the spot. "The new couple must question their way of life and establish common rules to avoid chicanery and thus accentuate friction and spoil the climate," recommends Lorraine Vallée. Respect for other ways of doing things is important. But usually when we think about going to live together, the spouses are alike on many points. “And if we have opposing or incompatible lifestyles, it might be better to buy a duplex where everyone has their own space and rules of life,” suggests Lorraine Vallée.


A clarification from the start is desirable to avoid disputes which will necessarily have repercussions on the couple and the life of the new family. We establish rules and values that both spouses will rely on to exercise a form of authority over the children of the household. The respect of these rules and way of life will be required by the adults of the house. "If the child throws a" you are not my father "to his mother's new partner, the latter can say to him" No, but your mother and I have established certain rules that you must respect. Talking to the “we”, whether in a traditional or blended family, is always a good formula,” suggests Michelle Parent.

Same thing when the friction comes from the fact that with the "other" parent, it's not the same thing. You have to be clear. “If possible, we promote consultation between the different adults in blended families to facilitate the child's adaptation and life. If there are educational differences, it is necessary to explain to the child that with mom it is like that and with dad it is like this without denigrating the different mode of education of the other parent. Children will develop their skills in adapting to different environments if the rules are clear and they are stable,” recalls Michelle Parent.

An alternative

The children are fighting or one of the spouses seems to find the project too heavy for the moment? It's normal! “As in every life event, there are adjustments to be made and everyone has more or less defense mechanisms to adapt to the changes. You have to find a comfortable rhythm for everyone,” explains Michelle Parent.

If it is possible, a trial period will allow the two families to see if cohabitation is really possible. “You can rent a chalet during the summer holidays and carefully observe the dynamics between all of them. We can live the week in our houses, but together on the weekends for a certain time. It also allows children to tame themselves better,” suggests Lorraine Vallée.

What if werealize that our lifestyles are too different, that our children are not ready or that we simply prefer to wait until they are a little older, other solutions are possible: we can decide to move closer to home. other spouse without living with him, we can postpone the project, but by spending our holidays together, etc.


In a blended family as in a traditional family, it is important that each parent spends exclusive time with each of their children. “It intensifies our relationship with them,” notes Michelle Parent. Also, listening to your children and really listening to them is a winning condition for cohabitation to go well.

To adapt to this new home, children must have their own space. Sometimes, it is not possible for each child to have a room of their own, but we can thwart everything by offering them to install a curtain or a screen to create a form of intimacy. They are offered to decorate their room to their taste or buy them a comforter they like.

By involving them in decisions, having them participate in the project and making them feel that they are at the heart of this adventure, they will feel more confident and more optimistic. “When we ask them for their opinion, when we listen to them and when we are able to put ourselves in their shoes to understand their point of view, we put more luck on our side”, recalls Lorraine Vallée.


The key is often dialogue. We must come to be able to express our fears, our fears and our doubts. For example, a woman can adore her relationship with her new spouse because she feels fully “woman” and not just “mom”, but she does not want to go live with him. For her, cohabitation resonates “mothering” as she may have done in a previous union. She is afraid that the same pattern will start again. She needs to find the source of her fears and once this is done, this woman may be ready to live together and will also necessarily be more vigilant.

Finally, reading up on the subject and even going to see a psychologist, even before the cohabitation project is finalized, can help us by foreseeing what could happen. By being able to express our concerns and our fears – and especially when we are heard –, we always see things much more clearly.

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