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7 Keys to a Healthy Blended Family

The landscape of modern family dynamics are changing rapidly and more and more people are now in a second marriage and/or blended family situation. Navigating the complexities of these family dynamics can be incredibly challenging, but I’m convinced that they can (and must) be done well!

I’ve borrowed wisdom from thriving Blended Families and also applied the timeless truths in Scripture to identify seven “House Rules” which can bring peace and health in any family dynamic. One quick rule to help you get started is not to use the phrase “step kids” which can have a negative connotation. Make up new terms with a positive tone. I know one family who refers to their “step kids” as “BONUS KIDS” and the Step parents are the “Bonus Parents.” Sounds better, right?

Below are seven principles which could set the course for the future of your marriage and family. For ongoing resources to help you build a rock-solid marriage and family please connect with me on twitter and subscribe to our email list above. You’ll receive encouragement in your inbox, a free marriage ebook download and NO spam! :)

For additional resources to build a strong, Blended Family, check out The Blended Family Mom (by clicking here).

family silhouette

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

(In no particular order):

1. Increase the “comedy” and decrease the “drama.”

Create an atmosphere in your home where laughter is always welcome, but “drama” is left outside. Don’t tolerate insults, sarcasm, negativity, gossip or passive-aggressive behavior. Promote a climate of joy and a safe place for fun in the home.

2. Be consistent in your enforcement of rules.

Don’t change your rules just because “the other house” has lighter rules and you’re afraid the kids will prefer being there instead of being at your place. Be consistent in your rules and in the long run, everyone will benefit.

For more on this, check out my popular post on 7 ways parents harm their children without even realizing it.

3. Be completely unified with your spouse.

A healthy blended family starts with a healthy marriage. You must always have each other’s backs! You can’t let the kids play you against each other. The stability in your home will be a direct reflection of the stability in your marriage.

For more on this, check out our free video series on The 4 Pillars of a Strong Marriage.

4. Promote peace with former spouses.

Work hard to keep a healthy relationship with former spouses, because if you share children, then it’s vital that you continue to work together well in an atmosphere with mutual respect and healthy communication. You won’t always agree with them, but try to at least be agreeable with them. Keeping the peace with exes will foster an atmosphere of peace in your family.

5. Protect healthy boundaries with former spouses.

While keeping the peace is important with exes, it’s also important to protect healthy boundaries for the sake of your current marriage. Don’t let the lines get blurry. Make sure your current spouse is always in the loop with any communication you have with your former spouse.

6. Make sure love, not last names, defines your family.

Everyone under your roof needs to know they are loved unconditionally and equally regardless of who their biological parents and/or siblings may be.

7. Build your family on a foundation of faith.

I’m not just saying this because I’m a pastor, but I believe every aspect of your life and family will be enriched by a deeper faith and a connection in a healthy community of faith (a local church). Pray for your family; God loves them even more than you do!

For more tools to help you build a rock-solid marriage and family, please check out our bestselling book* iVow: Secrets to a Stronger Marriage which is now also available on iTunes for Download on iPhones, iPads and all Apple devices.


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13 thoughts on “7 Keys to a Healthy Blended Family

  1. nikki hice

    I have two children that love my husband and have a great, respectful relationship. His daughter, however, we don’t see very often. She is 11 and is used to getting things her way. She refuses to come over because my husband tells her she has to abide by the house rules. How can we have any kind of healthy relationship like this?


    1. dave willis Post author

      Show her love and support however you can even when she’s not under your roof, but don’t compromise the house rules to entice her. That’s not doing anybody any favors. I know that’s a very difficult situation and I’m praying for your family.

  2. Rachel K

    I think most of this is true and helpful, I believe that the two spouses have to be on the same page overall especially with priorities were these things just don’t work. In the case of number five the two perspectives can sometimes be different depending on the background of those relationships.


  3. Jessica

    Your rules sound simple but they are so complex. We have a blended family, 6 kids total. 3 are his, 2 are mine and we have 1 together. We have been together for over 10 years and it’s tons of work. Heart ache and tears will be involved.


  4. angie

    I have a beautiful, amazing blended family! Don’t get me wrong it has been very challenging. Several times in the beginning of our relationship I didn’t know if I could do it. Dealing with exs & trying to bond with kids
    & blending family house rules, its very stressful. Luckily, after a lot of hard work & compromising I married my best friend. Rules of blended families is have same set of house rules for everyone, there is no longer my kids & his kids: its always our kids! Very important. Parents must always have each others back. If you don’t agree with something your sponse did (such as made a punishment without discussing it with you) in front of kids support your spouse. In private discuss with your spouse about how you prefer to handle a situation if it were to happen again. Then its important to have date night with each child on their own, it helps step children to see u view them as your own & your child so they don’t feel like you are replacing all your time & energy on new members of the family. It gives everyone a chance to bond. Plus of course date night with your spouse. What helped us the most is family night. Evert week we ask each child what they want to do for family night, it could be family movie, crafts, picnic, hike, playground etc…gives us all the chance to enjoy time with each other. Then simply turn off all electronics during dinner time & sit at the table & ask everyone how their day was so the family is connected in some way every day.


    1. dave willis Post author

      Sarah, I believe you’re asking if these principles hold true in families with adopted children and I would say, “Yes.” These same principles would apply. Adoption is a beautiful gift to enrich the life of a child and enrich the whole family. God adopts us into His family through faith in Christ, so adoption, by its very nature, is a beautiful expression of faith and love.

  5. Jerry Stumpf

    Our mutual friend Kimanzi Constable recommended I look through your site and I am glad he did!

    There are numerous folks who will benefit from your insights. They are brief but insightful bullet points which could give blended families a quick review of their situation. Thanks you for sharing.

    I am looking forward to being on your site a bit more to see what additional value you offer for marriages.

    Thank you for your emphasis to strengthen couples for the Lord.

    — Jerry Stumpf


  6. Lindsie

    I have to say being a step mother is the hardest thing I have ever done! I was a single mother and sole provider for one child. I married a man, who had been married for 10+ years with three children. When we married he gained primary/ legal custody of his 3, and also adopted my 1.
    At the beginning things were amazing!! Their morher was absent most of the time. After she found sobriety we encouraged the kids to have heathly relationship with her. I befriended her to keep the peace and show the kids (my step kids) they have three parents that are a team and love them unconditionally!
    This worked for about three years. Things have recently taken a nasty turn and I am searching for strength and wisdom!
    She uses all opportunity to turn my step children against me! She talks negatively about me to them. She constantly reminds them I am not their mother and they don’t have to listen to me! She will even call them and talk nasty about me while they’re sitting right next me!
    In our situation I have never used the label or title step mother. I have always loved and treated them like my own. Now that their mother is back in the picture and creating havoc, I am at a loss and looking for help!


  7. Katie

    My husband and I have a beautiful blended family! It wasn’t the easiest in the beginning (only due to my ex) but it has all evened out. My husband has never once called my son his step child. When he talks to others about our family he explains that he has a wife, a two year old son and a baby on the way! We have consistently been on the same page so running a house together is easy, it also helps that my husband and 2 year old have an amazing relationship! We always keep our home inviting and friendly and I can see how it has changed my son in a positive way compared to how things were with my ex (who now refuses to be apart of our son’s life…) but a healthy “blended” family is very possible!!!


  8. Meghan

    Really great list. I think it’s also important to respect the traditions and some of the special routines you had with your kids prior to the blending, so kids don’t feel like the marriage is robbing them of that. It is also a nice and necessary sentiment to move from his and mine to “our kids”; however, there will always be a major difference in the relationships, and coating everyone with the “ours” label doesn’t change that. Kids feel it too, and if you mask it with the whole “everyone is the same” concept, it just becomes the elephant in the room. I think it is better to acknowledge what you are: two families coming together. It takes time to be one family. Respect what was there and grow it rather than try to change it with a new marriage. It will change and meld over time provided there is tremendous respect for what was.


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