4 Boundaries With Ex-Spouses Blended Families Should Set

It’s important to set boundaries with your blended family – especially if your ex is involved! blended families rely on boundaries, tact, and communication to function. Any ground rules being set need to take everyone’s needs into account.

Ex-spouses are co-workers for blended families, but your current romantic partner could have some insecurities over it. Focus on reassuring them of their place in the family. It’s also important to focus on the boundaries to set with your ex.

Respect the rules your ex-spouse sets, even if you don’t agree with every decision they make. Steer clear of trash talk or gossip, because this will only damage the family. Communication is needed for all parties involved – don’t forget that your children are included here!

Setting blended family boundaries with your ex is a necessary requirement for your family’s betterment. That goal might seem out of reach, but remember that your ex is your co-worker in this blended family  – not your competitor. Work with them for everyone’s sake!

4 Blended Family Boundaries With Ex

1. Reaffirm Your Current Marriage Partner’s Sense of Security

man and woman holding hands at a swingset

Blended families aren’t parented solely by ex-spouses. Most of the time, one or both ex-partners are in new romantic relationships of their own. As many as four people could be serving in parental roles for children in these blended families, making things a little complex to navigate.

Your current partner likely isn’t too comfortable with your ex being an active presence in your life – even if it’s only to help raise your kids. They’re allowed to have those worries, but letting them linger would only lead to space for cracks to form in your relationship.

Kindly clarify to your partner that you and your ex are only cooperating for the sake of your children – reassure your partner that you and your ex only share a working relationship. 

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It’s okay if they aren’t fully comforted by that. Just because they have insecurities doesn’t mean your partner doubts your faithfulness. The fact they’ve stuck around to ask you already demonstrates a great deal of trust and vulnerability on their part.

Your current partner doesn’t know the full picture of your past. All they see is you, your ex, and the kids you’re taking care of together. Words won’t be enough – put in the time and effort to prove that they have nothing to fear.

2. Respect The Rules Your Ex Sets Within Their Household

Just because your ex sets different rules than you doesn’t mean they’re raising your kids wrong. One of the more common points you may differ on is curfew. Your ex might make them sleep earlier or let them stay up later than you’d prefer.

Rules clashing like this can cause a bit of friction in the blended family. Your kids might also have a tough time adjusting to these differing rulesets. Ex-spouse boundaries go both ways, so make sure that you can respect one another even when you disagree on situations.

You’re welcome to talk with your ex-spouse about this concern, but you shouldn’t expect them to change solely because of your input. They deserve some autonomy in raising their children, even if you aren’t fully on board with a few of their decisions.

Share your thoughts and perspective with your ex-spouse, but not to the point of nagging them. Don’t step in to intervene unless their rules are urgently affecting your child’s health, emotional well-being, or academic performance.

Even then, avoid chastising them bluntly. No one likes being told off for being wrong, and fewer still would change for the better after being subjected to a lecture like that. Ex-spouse boundaries work off patience and respect – condescension would just make things worse for the entire blended family!

Gently guide the conversation to have them recognize the concern. You aren’t telling them about mistakes they made here – think of them more as “points of improvement”.

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It’s important that you don’t make them feel wrong or reckless while conversing about this. Like it or not, your ex-spouse is your coworker in this scenario. Be patient with them even when it’s difficult since their cooperation is key to your success as a blended family.

3. Steer Clear Of Trash Talk

woman talking to her kid

As frustrating as your ex might get, trash talk is the last thing either of you wants to see introduced into this blended family. Everything you say runs the risk of being used against you. It’s one of the first boundaries you need to set with your ex to minimize conflict.

Even if your “trash talk” is composed of objective and valid concerns, there’s no point in telling anyone but your ex-spouse. Be especially mindful of sharing these sentiments with your current romantic partner – you’ll be trading short-term catharsis for long-term tensions.

The ones who would suffer most here would be your children. Steer clear of doing this.

You also shouldn’t discuss these worries with your children. They could potentially let these complaints slip to your ex-spouse, damaging your tenuous working relationship.

Even if they kept it a secret, you’d still be setting a bad example for your children.

Do you want your kids to learn how to talk about someone behind their back? Do you want them capable of judging people and picking sides on hearsay alone?

Trash talk isn’t needed for any kind of family. You need to set this boundary quickly and firmly, as the damage done from these situations could easily turn irreparable. Both you and your ex-spouse should understand that, and strive to keep unfounded gossip out of your blended family.

Raising children in a blended family is a cooperative effort. Mistakes made by one person are mistakes the whole family will suffer for!

If you have misgivings about your ex’s parenting methods, the first person who ought to hear about it should be your ex! Communication is key for any healthy working relationship and doubly important for navigating tenuous ex-spouse boundaries!

4. Communicate With Your Kid (Never Speak For Your Ex!)

woman talking to her kid on a grass

The person struggling the most here isn’t you or your ex: it’s your children. They’re being split between two different types of upbringings with up to four parental figures! Your children need validation and understanding far more than critique or advice.

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Unlike everyone else involved, your children didn’t have a say in this blended family dynamic. They likely feel lost and a little helpless, so put in the effort to make them feel heard.

Be sure to check in on how they’re feeling and processing this experience – do all you can to comfort your children.

Never speak for your ex. Your ex shouldn’t ever speak for you either. Both of your recollections will be biased, and there will be certain topics that cannot be discussed fairly.

For instance, stepparents are a sensitive issue in blended families – especially when current romantic partners are involved. It’s one of the earliest ex-spouse boundaries you need to set!

Discussing your ex-spouse’s romantic partner with your child could nudge them to view that person in a negative light. They might even begin to view them as the reason for their parent’s separation or divorce – or as an obstacle to their reconciliation.

Curb this possibility by discussing and listing taboo topics with your ex. The two of you need to sit down, talk, and come to an understanding of what topics need to be avoided for the sake of preserving your working relationship in this blended family.

While what you two would agree on will vary greatly depending on prior relationship dynamics, it’s generally recommended to keep current romantic partners out of the discussion.

Past relationship difficulties (in your marriage with your ex-spouse) are also worth avoiding. The full context is in the past now, and sharing these fragmented experiences with your children could lead to them picking sides on something they will never fully understand.

Even if you absolutely loathe your ex, we’d advise against sharing such stories – even if they ask about them. Keep things neutral and professional when navigating blended families.

Final Thoughts

There are a lot of boundaries to set up with your ex to maintain a cohesive blended family. Navigating all of these situations can be very difficult, but remember that you’re doing this for the sake of your children. Do everything in your power to preserve that peace.