The traditional family unit is a thing of the past. These picture-perfect nuclear families with a mom, a dad, two kids, and a pet are no longer the norm. The prevalence of divorce, same-sex parents, blended families, and single-parent households have made achieving this blueprint to a happy and ‘normal’ family almost laughable. In 2022, family is more than just being connected by blood or having two married parents. There are many different families in this world that we shouldn’t have to abide by old standards. It can be hard to try and make something work when you don’t even know where to start, but if you’re in an untraditional family, then here are some ways you can try to make it work.
Defining an untraditional family
An untraditional family is defined by blending two families or a blended family; this could be because of divorce, remarriage, or just because people in the household are related to one another. You could have multiple children who count on you and depend on you who have been born from different parents, or your children could end up with numerous guardians and parental figures.
Making Your Family Work
You might be worried about you and your partner not having the best foundations to raise your children in and to cheat your kids on the structure and stability of these so-called ‘traditional’ families. But life is all about making the best with what you’ve got. Despite the stereotypes for having the best home situations for their children, traditional families don’t always provide the best environment for kids. In addition, studies show that children in these families are more likely to face social and emotional issues than children in nontraditional families. Thus it’s of utmost importance to work hard on making your family work.
There are a lot of strategies you can use to make this happen, but one great way is to create a parenting plan. A parenting plan is an agreement made by two parents outlining how they want to raise their child together. This is especially critical to live by if you are in the process of a divorce or thinking of splitting up. You can also include things like school activities and holiday traditions. It might seem challenging to sit down and come up with this parenting plan if you are feeling resentful towards your partner, but it is all for the kids, and you must continue to remind yourself of that. Fortunately, it doesn’t take long to complete because all you have to do is write down the things you agree on and then sign it with your partner. And if you and your partner are the types to disagree over each other, the parenting plan is the perfect place to form unified decisions after compromise; and you both will have signed it to hold yourselves accountable.
Supporting Your Child as a Parent
As a parent, you always want what’s best for your child. And if that means staying in an unhappy marriage to make sure your child is getting the life they deserve, then so be it. But that’s not always as easy as it sounds, especially when staying in a loveless marriage creates a hostile environment for your kids to live in. If you go through a divorce and have to come up with a new way to nurture and support your children, you might have to make edits to the old family plan. So what are some ways you can help your child adjust to this new family structure?
Parents’ most important thing to show their children is that this change will be okay. You can do this by ensuring the new parenting schedule is fair and allowing time for both parents with their children. It also helps to stay on good terms with your ex-spouse as much as possible. This will set an excellent example to your children of how to put aside feelings to create a positive environment.
It’s essential not to take out frustrations on your kids because they don’t understand what’s going on, and they probably feel like they’ve done something wrong. As long as you keep the lines of communication open and try not to argue in front of them, things should be fine.
Establishing Boundaries For Your Relationship
All members of the family need to have boundaries. Children shouldn’t have to worry about taking sides, and parents should be able to enjoy time with one another or their new partners. It’s hard when you’re trying to figure out what your new rules will be, but you must establish them as early on as possible.
Parents in an untraditional family often need to learn how to co-parent. This can be a complex process since they’ve likely never had to do it before. Still, they must figure it out so that their children have two loving parents in their life who are committed to them unconditionally.
Coping With Grief And Loss
It’s common for people to experience grief and loss when going through a divorce. This is a time of change and uncertainty that can be difficult for everyone involved, especially children. The best way to cope with this is by finding support. Your family, friends, counselors, and even your therapist can all help you process the emotions you’re experiencing during the divorce process.
It can be challenging to navigate through a contested divorce and come out on the other side with a healthy parenting plan and a loving environment for your child. However, you can create a plan that will benefit your child while providing a healthy framework for your relationship with the right tools and guidance.
The first step is identifying the fundamental differences between the traditional family and your new family structure. Next, you need to make sure that you know how these differences may impact your parenting plan. For example, if you have a blended family, you should know how to deal with in-law issues or parenting different sets of children under one roof.
The next step is to identify what you want for your new family structure. What does it look like? What feels right? Once you have this vision, take these ideas to your lawyer or mediator and ask them for guidance on how you might achieve these goals.
Finally, make sure to take care of yourself during this process. Coping with grief and loss can be difficult, and it is crucial to take time for self-care when you can.