Who Comes First In a Blended Family?

Blended families are tricky. Every member of the blended family is in a new environment where they do not know their place yet. It is our job as parents to know who comes first in a blended family.

As someone who is in a blended family myself, me and my husband have had to make it clear who is the priority in this new family. Having the hierarchy of the blended family clear will help make a lot of the family decisions. Every family is different so we can expect their priorities to also be different.

In a blended family, children should come first. Although you and your partner may still be working on building your relationship, children need to be the priority. Blended families are new to all members but are most overwhelming for children.

It can be difficult to put children that are not biologically yours first but in most healthy families, the children come first.

Why Children Need to Come First in a Blended Family

Blended families are much more difficult on children than they are on adults. For us, this could be a new exciting chapter in your life. On the other hand, for children, this is typically a scary and challenging time.

Children often feel neglected in blended families. Many times the parents focus on their new relationship with each other and less on the children. This causes the children to feel even more insignificant.

The environment we have when we are young plays a strong role in our personalities as adults. If you don’t put children first in a blended family it’ll have consequences on their ability to function in a fast-paced adult world.

Who Comes First In a Blended Family?

How to Put Children First

So what does putting your children first actually mean? In simple terms, it means that the needs of your children (or their children) superseded the need of your partner or even your own.

It is our responsibility as parents to give our children the attention they need to become mature, emotionally intelligent adults. The best way to do that is to put them first. Above your partner’s needs, and in most cases even above your own.

So what does it mean to put children first in a blended family? You may understand the concept but how does it apply on a day-to-day level. Let me tell you an example I personally went through with my husband and stepchildren.

As I’m sure you can relate, I get back from work exhausted. Long days and high pressure at work leave me thinking about a glass of wine with my husband and curling up in bed.

Every Wednesday and Friday my stepdaughters have a soccer game at 6:00 pm. Even though I want nothing more than to go home after a long day, I put the children first. I go straight from work to their soccer games no matter how tired I am.

Programs like OurFamilyWizard help parents navigate the difficulties of being in a blended family. Anything from scheduling soccer games to splitting expenses, this app makes co-parenting easy.

Because of that, I have been able to build a stronger relationship with my stepdaughter which has resulted in a stronger relationship with my husband.

This is what it practically means to put your children first in a blended family.

In your daily life, consider what you can do to put your children first.

Check out this list of blended family bonding activities to build a stronger relationship.

Putting Stepchildren First

The reality is, it can be difficult to put your stepchildren’s needs above your own. It takes time to form that parental instinct you may have with your own children. Do not be ashamed that you’d rather take a nap than take them to the park. The important part is that you still choose to take them to the park.

Continue to build that relationship with your stepchildren. I can say this from personal experience, it’ll only be a matter of time until you care for them as your own. Just ensure you are putting in a constant effort every day to work on your relationship with them.

When it’s your biological child, from the minute they’re born, you have a strong bond. You’d do anything for them. When it comes to stepchildren, that bond has to be developed over time.

I’ve coached many parents who have felt guilty because they are aware of the fact that they love their own children more than their stepchildren. This is nothing to be ashamed about. The reality is, in some cases, you may never love your stepchildren as much as your biological children.

The important part is that you always put children first in a blended family.

Put Your Relationship as a Close Second

Just because you’re are putting children/stepchildren first does not mean you should start neglecting your relationship with your partner. It just means that if you are deciding who comes first in a blended family, that answer is the children.

You still need to foster your relationship with your partner. That relationship may not come first but it’s a close second. In a blended family be conscious not to make the same mistakes you made in the past.

As your relationship with your stepchildren, it takes time and effort to build a strong relationship with your partner. Putting children first does not mean neglecting everyone else in a blended family.

Blended Family FAQ

Here are some commonly asked questions about the priorities of a blended family.

1. What Role do Ex-Spouses Play in a Blended Family?

If ex-spouses are still in the picture, their needs come third. First are the needs of your child, second are the needs of your partner, and third are the needs of ex-spouses.

Ex-spouses are one of the primary reasons being part of a blended family is so difficult. Balancing everyone’s needs/wants is nearly impossible. Keep your priorities clear and set strong boundaries.

2. Why Isn’t The Relationship the Top Priority?

Although many may not agree but being a parent is likely the most important thing you will do in your life. Once you have kids (or take on the responsibility of children) it is now your responsibility to see it through.

Marriage is important and maintaining a good marriage is hard BUT by agreeing with your partner to prioritize the needs of the children, your marriage will likely thrive because of it.

Be sure to have this conversation with your partner. Communication is key.

3. Why are Blended Families so Hard

There is a multitude of reasons blended families are hard. The first being that relationships are already hard as is, then add children, stepchildren, and ex-spouses. You now took the complexities of a regular relationship and multiplied it by 100.