Once you have gone through the wrenching experience of loss or divorce, it's not easy to pick up the pieces and find a new love. If you have children, they have been through a lot of upset, also. So when you do find a new love and want to create a blended family in a new way, these steps will help:

Dr. Romance's 4 tips to smoother step-parenting

1. Give your blended family a chance to bond. Don’t worry if everyone doesn’t settle in right away; bonding takes time. Hopefully, you all got to know each other before you moved in together, but the transition to living comfortably together can take time.

2. Have family meetings weekly. Give everyone (kids, too) a chance to share how they feel, what they like and don’t like, and ask them to share both positive and negative opinions. Invite suggestions about how to make things better. Shared times, such as mealtimes, are important -- but each person needs a break, too. Don’t allow the schedule to be too busy -- plan some time off.

3. Get on the same parenting page. Mom and Dad need to work out parenting methods, rewards, punishments, chores, allowances, bedtimes, homework, etc. Each of your single-parent families is unique, and everyone has to adjust to change. Transition is much easier if the parents are in agreement. If something happens you haven’t discussed, just defer to one parent, and work it out later. If you allow the kids to create discord between you, they’ll jump on it right away, and make your lives miserable.

4. If you have shared custody with one or more outside parents, resolve any conflicts with them right away –ex-spouse struggles can become disasters. You’ll all be connected for life. Help the children transition from one household to another by “debriefing” when they come home. “How was your visit?” Then talk about the system at your house.

"Dating Guidelines for Single Parents" will give you more information about how to set yourself and your family up for success. Dr. Romance's Guide to Finding Love Today demystifies the whole process from dating to creating a new, blended family.

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For low-cost counseling, email me at tina@tinatessina.com

Author's Bio: 

Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. is a licensed psychotherapist in S. California since 1978 with over 30 years experience in counseling individuals and couples and author of 13 books in 17 languages, including It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction; The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again; Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage, The Commuter Marriage, and her newest, Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences. She writes the “Dr. Romance” blog, and the “Happiness Tips from Tina” email newsletter.