Dr. Marion Somers
Blended families account for one-third of marriages in the United States. The category of blended families takes in husbands/wives with children; the other person having no children or never married; divorced moms and dads with kids; widow or widower with kids; adult men and women with very young children or adult children or a combination of both; married partners, same sex partners; cohabitating partners or the additional complexity of adoption.
With the right resources, guidance, help or support from therapists, family, friends, your step family/blended family can go forward with encouragement, support and hope. Some of the primary avenues to be aware of are sibling rivalry, the individual children involved need and deserve positive attention. Discipline and household rules need to be clear and written down and what the consequences might be upon breaking these rules. Children need to feel the cohesiveness of all these people coming together without their losing their own sense of identity and importance. It is a transition period for everyone so disputes will arise and compromises will be found to meet the challenges. Keeping up the continuity or connection with former spouses may not be easy but having harmony prevail during these changing times needs to be the beginning of new traditions that are worked out with all the individuals. Legal issues such as joint custody need to be gently explained to the children according to the understanding of their age. Like any new organic entity blended / step families will have their growing pains, disagreements/mistakes but eventually there will be a cohesive gathering of the minds and spirits as everyone joins in to create a functioning new family system. The Herculean effort of new bonds paves the way for a new sense of reconstituted family.
Resources are in abundance. Search words are in alphabetical order not in order of importance:
Determine your household rules
Functioning blended families