12 Common Problems With Blended Families And How To Deal With Them
Updated December 02, 2019
Reviewer Karen Devlin, LPC
If you already have a blended family or you're thinking about blending your family with your partners, it's a good idea to consider just what problems you could find yourself facing. You want to make sure that your family is going to be healthy and happy, as well as being a single strong unit. That's only going to happen if you're completely prepared (or at least as prepared as you possibly can be). So, just what should you know? What are other blended families facing, and how can you prevent those problems from hurting you?
1. Not Being On The Same Page
If you and your partner don't present a strong and united front, you're not going to encourage your children to do it. That means the two of you need to make firm decisions about how you're going to parent all of the children and what you're going to do if and when the children misbehave. If you decide that you're only going to be responsible for your children and your partner is only responsible for theirs that's something you can do, but you should agree on punishments for specific situations so that the children don't feel that one or the other are getting different treatment.
2. Trying To Continue As You Were
You and your partner are now responsible for a larger family. You want to make sure that you are talking about how this is going to change things in your relationship and your new family. Don't assume that you're going to continue things the way they always were before. Your family is different, and that means the process is going to be different. You'll need to work with your new partner to figure out how you're going to handle the normal daily activities of your life and everything that needs to be done.
3. Not Realizing The Ex Is A Part Of Your Family Too
Whether your partner has a great relationship with their ex or a terrible one, that person is going to be an official part of your family from now on. Just like your ex will always be a part of a family you're going to need to accept their ex into the family as well. It might be difficult to work with them positively and healthily, but it's going to be essential to the overall health of your family and your relationship with your step-children.
4. Not Letting Your Partner Parent Your Children
It can be difficult for you to let your partner be a parent to your biological children. Understand that the same is true for them. This means that when you are negative about their children, it can be difficult for them to accept and it will be difficult for you to accept. The two of you must understand that there will be times you need to be critical about the other person's biological children. You mustn't get too worked up or offended by these comments (as long as they're healthy and not abusive or unfair).
5. Not Preparing For The Outside World
Other people will make comments about your family. That's a fact of life. Whether they are part of your family or completely outside of your family, they're going to have things to say. They may ask you which children are 'yours' or they may be surprised by the large number of children that you have. They may make negative comments because of how many children you have. Understand that these things are going to happen, and you're going to need to figure out how to deal with them.
6. Not Recognizing The Potential For Sibling Rivalry
Your children will not get along perfectly between the two families. Even if your children and their children were the best of friends before the two of you became one family, it doesn't mean that you're going to blend with no problems. If your children are close to the same age, it only exacerbates this problem. Understand that the children will have arguments, and there may be times when they join sides against one another. You need to make sure that you expect these things and that you have a plan for how to resolve them.
7. Not Giving Enough Attention To Each Child
When it comes to blending families, you need to make sure that you pay attention to each child within the family. Keep in mind that you are responsible for all of the children in the same way that your partner is. That means you're going to need to find a way to spend some time with each of the children in a positive way. They need to understand that they are all going to be your children now and that you want them to feel welcome and loved by you as well as by their biological partner.
8. Not Explaining It To Your Children
Your children are going to feel different about this new relationship and this new family. That means you're going to need to sit them down and talk to them about what this is going to mean for them and you. Talk to them about how you are now one family and that means you're going to be treating all of your children (them and your new step-children) the same way. Take the time to answer all of their questions and to explain that you love them and that things are going to be different, but that's okay and it's going to be good for all of you.
9. Not Recognizing The Trouble Of Becoming A Parent
If you didn't have any children of your own before this relationship, it might be very difficult to become a mother or father suddenly. You may be uncertain how to become a parent or what it even means suddenly. Realize that being a parent is a very difficult thing and that trying to jump in and be their new mom or dad is not going to win you any favor points (at least not if you're trying to replace their other parent or you're trying to discipline them for anything). You're going to need to talk with your partner about what your responsibilities are as a new parent and what it means to step into this family.
10. Not Realizing The Difficulty For Your Step-Children
Being part of a brand new family is going to be difficult for everyone. Understand that your step-children (and your children) are going to be going through a difficult time. They may struggle with how to accept you as their parent while they still have another parent. They may struggle with how they feel about you because they feel disloyal to that parent. They might struggle with the new family dynamic or feeling like they have to share their parent. All of these things are going to make it hard for your relationship, but if you can understand this and give them some slack, you're going to be in a better situation.
11. Not Realizing That It Takes Work
You need to recognize that there will be a learning curve for forming a single-family. There may be times at the beginning where you or your partner just don't know how to react. There may also be times where you make mistakes. Be open and honest about all of these things and then be willing to make changes throughout. Talk to the children, especially about mistakes that are made and what you're going to change going forward. This will help your relationships to continue to grow better and will help you all to be happier.
12. Not Understanding Your Family Is Going To Be Different From Everyone Else
It's not going to help you to look at the textbook definition of a blended family, and what it means to face the problems you're going to have. It means that you're going to have different situations than other people and you'll never know exactly what's going to happen. You'll face several problems, and you and your partner will have to figure out what it means and what to do about each of those things.
If you're struggling with your new family and your new relationships, you may want to seek out family counseling, and one way that you can do this is with ReGain. You'll be able to have counseling that looks to improve your relationships as a family, and you can even do this without ever leaving your own home. You can all sit in the comfort of your home and your living room (or anywhere else you want to be) and have the session. It helps all of the children, as well as you and your partner, to feel better about what's happening and what you're talking about with your therapist.