I don’t know about you, but when I think of the word “blended” I think of things coming together in harmony. The term “blended family” can be misleading to new remarried families. The day a father and step-mother or mother and step-father says “I do” does not automatically “blend” their family. U.S. statistics show blended families make up about 1/3 of all new marriages, and 65% of those include children from prior marriages. Although the divorce rate is holding steady at about 45%, it’s significantly higher in step-families at 67% (73% for third marriages).
There are many challenges that can divide a blended family. Knowing what these challenges are and handling them with patience, love, and understanding can greatly improve your step-family success.
Here are a few common challenges and some suggested solutions to help YOU “blend” your family in harmony:
- Sibling Rivalry – Rivalry with non-biological siblings can be especially bitter. Expect more fighting among them. It’s best to encourage the children to compete against their own personal best instead of measuring their best against their step-sibling.
- Step-parent and Step-child Bonding – TIME is essential in forming new relationships between step-parents and children. Many times due to loyalty binds, the children are torn between their biological parent and step-parent or may be grieving the loss of a biological parent. Step-parents should be patient and a friend first.
- Differences in Discipline– It’s best for the biological parent to discipline until the child feels comfortable, safe, and trusts the step-parent. The rule of thumb for step-parents is discipline from a place of love when you have to discipline. Be conscious of the child’s point of view and be fair. Nurture the child and teach them responsibility.
Porsha Williams, LAMFT