12 Common Problems With Blended Families And How To Deal With Them
If you already have a blended family or you're thinking about blending your family with your partner’s, it can be wise to consider the problems you could run into. After all, it is natural to want to make sure that your family will be healthy, happy, and a strong, cohesive unit. Going into the situation feeling prepared can set you and your family members up for success and help you solve issues that may arise along the way. So, just what should you know? What are other blended families facing, and how can you prevent those problems from affecting your own family?
Not Being On The Same Page
In order for your children to mesh well, it can be important for both parents to present a strong and united front. Before beginning to parent together, it can be helpful to sit down and decide what that process will look like. Each of you can make firm decisions together about how to raise the children and what do if and when they misbehave. If you decide that you're only going to be responsible for your children and your partner is only responsible for theirs, this can be a viable option. However, you may want to agree on punishments for specific situations so that the children don't feel that one or the other are getting treated differently.
Trying To Continue As You Were
You and your partner are now responsible for a larger family. It can be crucial to talk about how this will change your relationship and your new family. It may not be helpful to assume that things will continue as they were before. Your family is going to change and be different, and that means the process might involve situations you’ve never experienced before. You'll likely need to work with your new partner to figure out how you're going to handle life's daily activities and everything that needs to be done.
Not Realizing The Ex Is A Part Of Your Family Too
Whether your partner has a positive relationship with their ex or not, that person may be an official part of your family from now on. Just like your ex might be a part of your family forever, you may need to accept their ex into the family as well. It might be difficult to work with them positively and healthily. Still, it can be essential to your family's overall health and your relationship with your step-children.
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 could be true for them. To prevent hurt feelings, resentment, or misunderstandings, try to practice open communication. Setting healthy boundaries around the children can also be beneficial. If your partner brings up a concern about your children, or vice versa, try to remain patient with another. Avoid taking these comments personally or feeling attacked, unless of course their comments are abusive or unfair.
Not Preparing For The Outside World
Other people may make comments about your family. Whether they are part of your family or completely outside of your family, they may have things to say and opinions to give. This can be true even of non-blended families. Someone 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. Devise a plan for these kinds of situations and have open conversations with your children when they do occur.
Not Recognizing The Potential For Sibling Rivalry
Just as in non-blended families, sometimes the children don’t get along with one another. 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 necessarily going to blend together with no problems. If your children are close to the same age, this can be even more challenging. Understand that your children may have arguments, and there may be times when they take sides against one another. It can be essential to expect these things and to have a plan for how to resolve them. Talking openly with your partner about these situations can help you both be prepared in advance.
Not Giving Enough Attention To Each Child
When it comes to blending families, it can be crucial to make sure that you pay attention to each child equally within the family. Keep in mind that you are responsible for all children in the same way your partner is. That means you're probably going to need to find a way to spend some time with each of the children in a positive way. Kids need to feel safe, cared for, and like they belong. Understand that, since they are all going to be your children now, it can be vital to help them feel welcomed and loved by you as well as their biological parent.
Not Explaining The Situation To Your Children
Your children may feel a certain type of way about this new relationship and their new family. That means you're likely going to need to sit them down and talk to them about what this will mean for them, their siblings, and you as their parent. Talk to them about how you are now one family, which 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 explain that you love them and that although things will be different from now on, it can still be a positive change for everyone.
Not Recognizing The Trouble Of Becoming A Parent
If you didn't have any children of your own before this relationship, it might not be easy to suddenly become a mother or father. You may not know how to parent or feel unsure about what your role will be. Parenting can be difficult, even if you’ve had experience with it before. Trying to replace their other parent or disciplining them harshly may not win you any favor. It can be important to talk with your partner about your responsibilities as a new parent and what it means to step into this family.
Not Realizing The Difficulty Your Step-Children Face
Being part of a brand-new family can be difficult for everyone. Understand that your step-children (and your children) may be going through a difficult time and experiencing a lot of conflicting, complex emotions. They may struggle with how to accept you as their parent while they still have another parent. They may not know how they feel about you because they don’t want to be disloyal to another parent. Some may even see you negatively, particularly in the beginning. They might struggle with the new family dynamic or not want to share their parent’s attention with you. All of these things can make it hard for your relationship, but if you can understand and be patient with them, the situation can turn around and improve over time.
Not Realizing That It Takes Work
Recognize that there can be a learning curve when forming a blended family. There may be times at the beginning where you or your partner don't know how to react. There may also be times where you make mistakes. This is natural; you are both human. Be open and honest about all of these things and try to be willing to make changes throughout the blending process. Talk to the children, especially about mistakes made and what you're going to change going forward. This can help your relationships to continue to grow and may allow the family to thrive with more ease.
Not Understanding Your Family Is Going To Be Different
The textbook definition of a blended family may still look starkly different from your own. Likewise, the definition of a blended family won’t help you deal with the problems that arise within your own. You’ll probably face many unique situations from other families and not know exactly how to handle them. Working with your partner, you can figure out what steps to take to solve them. While you may not be able to rely on traditional family advice, you can still learn along the way and do your best create a family you can be proud of.
Online Counseling With ReGain
If you're struggling with your new family and your new relationships, you may consider seeking family counseling, couples therapy, or individual counseling. You can participate in online therapy through ReGain, which offers guidance to couples and individuals alike. Starting a blended family can be time-consuming and challenging, and it may be difficult to make time for things like therapy. However, online counseling allows you to prioritize what matters most and meet at a time that works for everyone. You can participate in sessions from the comfort of your home, or anywhere else you have Wi-Fi, often making it easier and more convenient to get the support you need.
The Efficacy Of Online Counseling
Those experiencing problems blending their family with their significant other’s may benefit from online counseling. Researchers have studied the efficacy of web-based programs for couples experiencing relational distress. One study showed how an internet-based intervention was successful in increasing relationship satisfaction and reducing overall psychological distress. It also improved participants’ symptoms of anxiety and depression.
It can be important to remember that everyone is learning within a blended family. This situation is new for the kids and adults alike and bringing everyone together can involve difficult emotions. However, committing to the process and practicing patience can help your family thrive. If you’ve tried everything you can to hold your blended family together without seeing results, confiding in an online counselor could be a helpful next step to take. In many cases, family therapy can effectively solve problems, improve communication, and allow the whole family to grow together.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why are blended families so difficult?
There are many reasons to explain why blended families can be so difficult. First, blended families often feel as if they have no voice. Their family has suddenly grown, and they now must share everything with other kids that they may hardly know. This type of family dynamic could be challenging for anyone to get used to.
Family relationships, especially within the nuclear family, can also wreak havoc on blended families. This is because parents often show favoritism toward their biological children, even if they don’t mean to do so. Another common problem blended families face is clashing parenting styles and discipline strategies. Extended family can also add to the challenges of adjusting to a blended family. Although blended families can be a success, it can be easy to see why they can also be challenging.
What percentage of blended families end in divorce?
The statistics reveal that about 30% of blended families survive and stay together long-term. There are many resources that can help a blended family survive and attain improved family dynamics. Family counseling is just one tool that can be effective by helping family members begin to understand each other, communicate more openly, and form stronger relationships with one another. It can also assist with the unique problems blended families may face.
How long does it take for blended families to adjust?
It can take a blended family as long as 10 years to bond, build up trust, and be considered a “happy family,” but every family is different. On average, it takes one to two years to settle in. Therefore, it can be helpful to go into the situation with realistic expectations, knowing that it’s unlikely that everyone will get along perfectly within only a few weeks or months. Instead, put plans in place for problems that are likely to come up. Be sure to display a united front with your spouse in front of the kids and work together to determine how you want to handle discipline issues. While this might lead to a bit of conflict between the two of you initially, it may be helpful for your family if everyone is on the same page.
How do you survive a blended family?
For a blended family to be successful, it can be important for each member to have respect and empathy for one another. Next, you may be able to avoid some of the common problems blended families face if you define each parent’s clear roles and keep your marriage strong. If the marriage isn’t strong, the family may have a smaller chance of surviving. Make a point of setting up bonding activities for the entire family to participate in as well. Try to ensure that family relationships with exes (the kids’ other parents) remain civil, and practice open communication with them.
What are the disadvantages of a blended family?
There are pros and cons to all types of families; blended families are no different. Some of the disadvantages of a blended family could be increased sibling rivalry, identity confusion for younger kids, legal issues, financial troubles, and negative effects of clashing parenting styles. Other blended family problems include the fact that children in blended families may not accept the new partner or their new step-siblings, school problems resulting from the situation at home, and resentment and emotional issues.
Of course, there can be plenty of positive things about having a blended family as well. Some of the pros include two sources of income, more financial stability, a broader perspective on life for the children, a larger support system, and new role models.
Who should come first in a blended family?
In a blended family, which family should come first? Should it be your nuclear family, your stepfamily, or your spouse? Experts agree that your family should put your marriage first. Without a healthy marriage as its foundation, the family may not function as well as it could. Types of families with a strong marriage are more likely to succeed. While it might seem logical to put the children first, this can lead to marriage problems, reflecting negatively on the children and other family relatives. Additionally, if the marriage fails, the children in question may only face another loss. Therefore, it can be crucial to maintain a healthy marriage and use effective communication skills to keep the blended family not just surviving but thriving.
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