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Blended families are becoming increasingly common. If you are part of a blended family in which you or your partner already have children from previous relationship, you have some special issues to consider before you start trying to conceive together.

To help you out, we have prepared a list of things you should not forget to talk about. 

One parenting strategy for one family

Blended families sometimes feel just like that a mix of people who are living together in the same house, without a proper family bond. In such families, both partners may be parenting their own children while steering clear of parenting issues with their partner's kid(s). Children may come and go from the home if they also spend time with their other parent in a shared-custody arrangement. It may seem as if you never get around to being a real family.

This is something that should definitely be fixed before you start trying to conceive with your new partner. How can you make sure that you present a united front and become a family with one parenting approach for all kids? Start off by talking to your partner. Individual kids may have individual needs, but that doesn't mean the partner who is not the child's biological parent can't jump in to participate in the child's upbringing. Talk about one discipline approach for all, and ways to meet individual children's needs, together.

Once you have agreed, it is time to call a family meeting. You can ask the children for their input and opinions, and discuss ways to become one family together. It is also important to spend plenty of time bonding together, especially if your partner's kids don't know you very well yet, or your kids are not sure if they like your new partner. Eat family meals together, help children with homework, and go on trips. When you all feel like a new whole, it will be so much easier to add a new baby into the mix.

Discussing your children's feelings

You may be madly in love with your new partner, and you are probably sure you want to spend the rest of your life with him if you want to have his baby. Don't assume that your children agree that your new partner is wonderful, though, and don't think the same is true for his children either. No matter how happy you are now, your children may still be extremely sad that you split up with their dad, or may miss the days you were a single parent.

Don't be afraid to discuss your children's feelings with them openly. Doing so is not going to open Pandora's Box; all it will achieve is that your kids don't have to carry the burden of those feelings by themselves any more. Listen, really listen, and acknowledge your children's feelings and fears.

Then, work on a solution together. Leave space for the possibility that there are some things your kids really don't like about your new partner. If that is the case, you may be able to talk about this during a family meeting, and fix the problem. Your goal is to live harmoniously as one family, but also to realize and accept the fact that your new partner will probably never be your kids' first choice.

How will a new baby impact your household

Once you have delved into all those deep emotional issues, and started to heal past wounds, you can focus on the future. How will a new baby impact your household, financially and practically? Existing children who are part of blended families may well need their own space badly. Try to make sure they will still have privacy after you have a baby, and don't make them share a room with a step sibling they don't want to share with if you can help it. Take a look financial organization post-baby as well.

This is likely to be harder than if you were planning to have another baby in a non-blended family, since you need to take older kids' needs into account, and you may have to deal with child support.

Parenting together

If you and your partner are both already parents, you obviously have some great experience behind you. But, how much do you really know about your partner's parenting philosophy? You probably haven't seen each other caring for babies, and your approach to raising kids and discipline may have been shaped by your previous partner's opinions as well.

Don't let being a veteran parent get in the way of discussing how you would both like to raise a new child, and how older siblings can participate. I've seen plenty of blended families where these issues are simply not discussed in enough detail, and that leads to dysfunction.

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