I have been married and am now with a SO in a “blended family” where we both have children but none together. These are my tips:
1.) Remember that you and SO are a team. Even if you do not agree with your SO, never show it in front of the kids. They need to think that they can’t play you off each other.
2.) If you have disagreements about parenting styles, discuss them in PRIVATE.
3.) Create house rules that everyone is comfortable with, which includes consequences and expectations of the kids. Clearly lay down the law for the children so that EVERYONE is on the same page. It’s important the kids know that even if mom/dad isn’t home, the rules apply.
4.) Realize that you WILL have to enforce the rules. There can be no “his kids, my kids” in the same home. This doesn’t mean you have to full-on discipline the kids, but it does mean that you will have to remind them of the house rules and consequences if one of you isn’t home. There WILL be situations where you can’t “wait for mom/dad” to get home.
If you are uncomfortable enforcing consequences on your SO’s kids, then you still tell them that they will get “X” consequence and you let your SO know what they have done and that you told them they will get “X” consequence, and then your SO has to follow through on it. In our case, I do put my SD (Step-Daughter) in time-out. I don’t lecture her, like I do my own kids, but I will tell her “you know X is against the rules, so you have to sit in timeout.” and then I tell SO, so that he can do the “discipline” part (e.g. the lecture… lol).
5.) Remember that just because your SO may have a different opinion on a style of parenting doesn’t mean that its wrong. It’s just DIFFERENT. Appreciate the different things that you both bring to each other.
6.) Leave major decision about the kids to the birth parents. I may voice my opinion on what I think my SO should do for bigger decisions, but generally its only if asked. I am never involved in the decision making with BM (e.g. whether the kid should switch schools, doctor stuff, etc.)
7.) DO consult one another in areas that will affect one another. For example, don’t change a custody/visitation schedule with your other birth parent without making sure that it works for your SO. Don’t make an agreement to, for example, pick up at a different time without running it by your SO first if it will somehwo inconvenience SO.
8.) Remember to apprecaite each others help related to the children. For example, my SO picks up my DD from school. He often watches my DD when she’s sick so I can work, or will take them to appointments, etc. It has caused problems when I just assume that he can do something like that rather than asking him. Even though he takes responsibility for helping me with my kids, ultimately they are MY kids. Asking “honey, do you mind…” is a form of appreciation.
9.) Give each other a break. Sometimes this is hard in relationships. You are going to mess up. You are going to have to learn how to be a family together. Your SO will do something related to your kids that is upsetting (and vice versa). Look at the bigger picture and let some of the smaller stuff go.