An announcement of a new baby can trigger a myriad of mixed emotions in children of blended families. The news can cause feelings of insecurity, jealousy, anxiety, and an overall sense of displacement and confusion. This period of transition can also be hard on parents who may be balancing feelings of guilt in connection to the changes their family is undergoing, feelings of joy and excitement regarding the upcoming birth of their new child and the inevitable stress that a new baby can bring. Here are a few helpful tips for navigating this sometimes-difficult experience.
Offers lots of reassurance
First and foremost, it’s crucial to remind children of their position in your life and the essential role that they play. Oftentimes, pregnancy news can cause children to worry that they will be replaced once the baby is born. This can also lead to feelings of jealousy and resentment towards parents and the baby. Reaffirming to your biological and bonus children what they mean to you through words and actions can help to ease their concerns.
Find ways to include them in the process
Preparing for a new baby can be very exciting, so if the kids are up to it, look for creative ways to include them in the process. From inviting them to ultrasound appointments, asking for their input on baby names, and asking for their help decorating the nursery are all great ways to help them feel included even before the baby is born. Of course, it’s important not to force this. This should only happen when the kids are willing participants and it should never be presented as an obligation or a chore.
Plan a commemorative family vacation or outing
Many parents celebrate the upcoming birth of a child by planning a kid-centric vacation or outing that not just celebrates the new baby, but also the family current structure. For example, a trip to Disney World or Sesame Place might be a nice way for a blended family to acknowledge that this is their last vacation as a family of four. It helps to reinforce positive memories while also building momentum for the baby’s birth.
Connect with a family therapist
Not all children process the news of a new baby the same. Some will be excited while others are reluctant or angry. If you notice that your children are having a particularly strong reaction to the news, considering connecting with a child or family therapist. They can help the kids to identify their feelings, talk through their fears, and work through this transition in a healthy way. Additionally, these licensed professionals can equip parents with the emotional tools needed to support their children through this life-changing transition.
Provide resources on the topic
There are a variety of great children’s books on the market that explore both blended families and the addition of an “ours baby.” Providing children with literature on this complex subject can also help to prepare them for their new normal.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and your children may not be immediately accepting of the fact that there is a new baby on the way. As challenging and emotionally taxing as these situations can be, it’s important to be patient and show empathy towards the children. A new sibling is a life-changing event and it may take time before they’re able to adjust to their new life.