As more and more divorces take place amongst couples with young children the cycle of divorce and remarriage creates the formidable task of blending two families into one functioning social unit.
It is a truly momentous undertaking especially if the children from both families live in the new family home. It is very difficult for the new spouse to be accepted by their stepchildren and for those stepchildren to accept the children of the new spouse.
Blending families where all the children are not resident in the same home is only slightly less difficult than the constant shifting of children between homes. Some of these children quite rightly continue to have a close relationship with their other biological parent which can fuel powerful and potentially disruptive emotions.
How to make it a little easier
If you are in the process of creating or planning to create a blended family then you will be acutely aware of these difficulties. What would be useful would be some help and advice in dealing with them. Without doubt the best advice is to give it all the time possible to allow it to work.
It takes time
Parents must build a solid foundation for themselves and for their children before embarking upon the process of blending two families together. It will take a couple of years to learn about and adapt to all the new players in the family. This is all about being with one another for more than just weekend visits. Making a blended family is a bit like cooking risotto, it takes time and care to combine the ingredients within the perfectly cooked rice and so produce a satisfying plate of wonderfulness.
Understand the needs of the children
It's important to understand that these children feel scared and threatened at these radical changes in the structure of the family. This is why lots of time and patience is needed to create the circumstances in which these changes can be implemented.
It's important for everyone involved not to allow the children to force a choice between the parent and their new partner. Children must gradually learn that the new arrangement involves mutual acceptance and not competing alliances. This learning takes time, patience, cooperation and perseverance.
Everyone needs to accept the new family arrangements
These new family arrangements will be a great deal easier if the biological parents accept one another and can at least appear to support the new arrangements if only for the sake of the children. It is not unusual for the biological children to attempt to manipulate the situation by reporting every detail of family life to the other biological parent so as to get the stepparent "in trouble."
The challenge for all parents involved is not to submit to these manipulations and strive to keep all the complex relationships in the blended family functioning in constructive and adaptive way. Open and friendly communications are necessary to prevent manipulation in playing one parent off against another. If the parents involved cannot reach some amicable arrangement with each other then what chance will the children have in feeling secure in this new family structure?
Interconnected blended families
It is common for both divorced parents to remarry and create their own blended family. This creates even further complexity as your blended family can become part of someone else's blended family. All the advice given already applies here but even more so. It will work fine if you go slowly and communicate all the time with the members of your exciting new family.
Further help is available
There is further help out there to give you ongoing advice and support. One of the best offers valuable support and covers a wide range of aspects of both the delights and difficulties of being a stepparent.