If you wanted a real life simulation of what it would be like to live in a household with a blended family, jump in an RV and head out on a roadtrip. In one week you can experience numerous somewhat normal living situations that will test how ready you, your partner and the children are to live together. Recently, I did have this experience and it was very telling. One key observation I had was our children tend to adjust to parenting styles, so when you put children together with different parenting styles, you'll find the kids marching to different beats. Expectations on simple things like getting ready on time to leave for an activity, cleaning up after themselves, daily or nightly routines all tend to be very different. I tend to be very punctual and like to leave at a time we specify. My kids are used to this and have become accustomed to that discipline. My girlfriend and her daughter have a different standard and are used to getting ready and leaving in a much bigger window of time. There's no right or wrong in this situation. It just requires communicating expectations so the gap in these two different habits/ behaviors don't turn into frustration. It also requires some flexibility on both parents' part because it takes time to adjust to a place of common ground where both parents and all kids are comfortable with changes to the parenting styles. As with most blended family issues, compromise and communication are key! My roadtrip turned out to be great fun and we created some very special memories as practice blended family. I hope you get the opportunity to the do the same some day.
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