Succeeding As A Blended Family
May 3, 2017
It wasn’t so long ago a typical family was described as a mom and dad with 2.5 children. Now there are so many more possible family types, including “blended families.”
Today 4 in 10 new marriages include at least one partner who was married before, so adults and children are entering into families made up of biological parents, step-parents, half-siblings and step-siblings.
This blended reality often means complicated schedules, squabbling step-siblings, issues with ex-partners as well as new spouses who have never been parents trying to build relationships with step-children. Blended families are different from “first families” and need different approaches to be successful. Most families do not experience harmony like on the TV show “The Brady Bunch,” especially when the blended family is newly formed. It can take two to five years for a blended family to establish itself. Some things to consider include:
- The division of labor among the children
- The adults expectations about time spent without children
- The access grandparents and other relatives will have
- How conflicts will be resolved
- Long-term goals for financial planning
- How relationships between the adults (biological and step-parents) are negotiated
It is important that the adults involved anticipate the fact that issues may occur and be open to finding solutions. Experts recommend that step-parents take time to intentionally build positive relationships with their step-children before taking on parenting responsibilities such as enforcing rules and doling out discipline. Communication that is open, honest and occurs regularly is critical. Family meetings can be a great way to ensure that everyone has a chance to be heard.
This article was written for the May 2017 edition of Parent Source.