Trying to Blend a Family?
It's not easy to bring two families together and merge them into one. The different routines, personalities, traditions can all be challenging when you blend families and then add in ADHD and other complex challenges, and it can seem even more daunting. But there are few simple communication techniques that can set you and your family on a positive path:
1. Set the expectation that your “new” family is going to be ALL about respecting everyone – all traditions and perspectives are going to be heard, and you will try to make sure everyone's desires are honored in some way. You're only human, but you're sure going to try! And modeling that respect is essential in setting that precedent.
2. Create a space where people feel heard. Ask people what's most important to them. How do they “do things” in their family of origin that they want to stick with? Don't guess, or assume. And the best way to create a space where people feel heard is to listen. Really listen.
3. Acknowledge where everyone is coming from – if someone thinks your tradition is “stupid” because it's so different from theirs, that's a legitimate opinion. Try to avoid convincing people to believe something different, or to see things your way. They're entitled to their opinion – though you can request that they “humor you,” anyway, because you're trying to make sure everyone gets their needs met (see #1).
4. Have compassion – change is HARD, hard, hard, and there's TONS of emotional baggage everyone brings to the table. EXPECT that. Emotions may run high and tempers short but having compassion and empathy will make the changes smoother.
And remember, blending families is a big change for everyone so expect challenges, setbacks, progress, and victories and give everyone (and yourself!) extra grace along the way.