According to statistics, about half of all marriages in the United States end in divorce. As a consequence, blended families are also becoming increasingly common. Even so, many people in this type of situation, be it the parents, stepparents, or children and stepchildren, undergo many problems as a result of the new family dynamics.
While the first few years in transition are the most difficult, acknowledging and accepting the challenges of all involved parties is the first step to healing and building relationships among stepfamily members.
Difficulties For Couples In Blended Families
The couples in blended families have to go through many changes before and after remarriage, such as the trauma of divorce and meeting their new family members (stepchildren). It can prove to be a challenge because stepparents have to adjust their parenting styles as well as try to be accepted into their stepchildren’s lives. For the biological parents, they have to also deal with any emotional problems that may arise from the divorce and other issues.
Stepparent In A Blended Family
Stepparents have many challenges to overcome regarding their stepchildren. They have to make an effort to build relationships with them while enforcing rules and becoming an authority figure. It is always advisable to start this process before the remarriage. Things often take a dramatic turn as soon as the blended family starts living under one roof. It becomes even trickier if they come into a relationship without having their children or any parenting experience.
Relationships Between Ex-Partners And Stepparents
It is a given that ex-partners will still be a part of the family’s life in one way or another. If the children want to maintain contact with their biological parents, it’s almost a guarantee. In this case, trust between the new partners is necessary. The new couple will have to make their relationship flourish, deal with stepfamily, and they also have to be civil with their ex-partner.
Issues That Children Face In Blended Families
The relationship between child and stepparent. Children, especially older kids, go through various emotions upon seeing the divorce and remarriage of their parents. The tension can be exacerbated as they try to adjust to their new stepfamily, even if they get along. It can be problematic for a child to transition from seeing the new partner as “their parent’s friend” to their stepparent. Parent counseling can assist during this time. (Read this article for information about this type of program.)
The relationship between child and stepsiblings. If the stepparent brings his or her children into the home, this can cause additional problems like sibling rivalry. It is essential for all the children in the family to feel that they are all equally loved. Family therapy can best help stepsiblings to overcome such problems.
Visitation and parenting plans. Another adjustment will be having to schedule visits with their non-resident parents, especially if the children are used to unstructured family time. There will be times that the child will want to spend more time with their parent than planned, and this can cause further tension and behavioral problems. Set up a routine for everyone and if there are some little changes, be flexible and don’t cause conflicts.
Grief and loss after divorce. Children need to go through the grieving process brought about by the loss of a parent or the change in family dynamics. While this can be difficult for them and their parents, remember that they can and will recover at their own pace.