Quick Facts About Blended Families:
A blended family is a marriage where one or more spouses bring children with them from a previous marriage or relationship.
Statistics have shown there’s a higher divorce rate in blended families.
Almost 75% of remarrying couples don’t get any premarriage/remarriage preparation
Don’t be put off by that last statistic. If anything, it shows that blended families need to be intentional in order to thrive and grow together.
In a healthy remarriage, it pays to be aware of the problems that may come your way and equip yourself ahead of time to deal with them before they spiral out of control.
You may even be able to avoid the problems altogether by setting out the right course of action.
Common Challenges for Blended Families
Every challenge has a solution. It’s all about finding the appropriate solution for your specific situation.
You may find yourself relating to one or two of these or perhaps all of them. And if it’s not your immediate family experiencing these challenges, it could very well be a loved one or friend who is, so this blog can equip you with some insight you can pass along.
Keep in mind the deadly sin of comparison. Especially when it comes to other blended families. Everyone is unique because of their past.
Understanding one another, showing empathy and compassion, and appropriate discipline for children when necessary, are all vital in blending a family successfully.
Challenge #1: Children having a hard time sharing parents.
If you or your spouse have been single long, it makes sense that your child is used to a certain amount of attention from you.
Now, being a blended family, you may find yourself with additional children who need your attention and time. That doesn’t even include finding time for your spouse.
This is a hard adjustment for any child, to be honest. But it is part of the new family dynamic, and they have to learn this new way of life.
TRY THIS: Show compassion and empathy. Keep an open conversation about how they’re feeling and adjusting. Try to find moments to connect, even if it’s just throughout your normal daily routine, like bringing home their favorite treat, cuddling on the couch to read together, or doing some other activity that your child finds meaningful. Little things can make them feel special and help them transition smoothly.
Challenge #2: Sibling rivalry rears its ugly head.
For a child who hasn’t had to share a parent, this can be an especially tough challenge. When a blended family comes together under one roof, competition can escalate quickly.
More fighting is going to happen. It may get ugly before it gets better.
TRY THIS: Never compare one child to another. Set strong boundaries and consequences for when a line is crossed. And most importantly, stick to them. It’s easy to feel guilty for how hard things feel for them, but letting them get away with bad behavior doesn’t help anyone move forward. Praise kindness that you see and hear between your kids and tell them how proud of them you are.
Challenge #3: Your children are confused about their identity.
Forming a new family can create some confusion and identity issues for your children.
One example would be if the mother changes her last name with remarriage. For the child, it could feel as if they are losing their mother since they no longer share last names, the only family they know. They may even start to detach themselves from the family.
TRY THIS: If you aren’t married yet, start talking about this issue now. Share with them the things that will change, and give them a chance to express their feelings so you can reassure and comfort them. If you are currently married and dealing with this challenge, sit down with your child and have an open conversation. Ask them to share with you what they’re feeling, and try not to interrupt. Show them they have a safe space with you to be vulnerable.
Challenge #4: Stepparent discipline not going over well.
The stepparent who was once a boyfriend or girlfriend used to be someone they could have fun with. Someone who wanted your child to like them so they did special things to create a bond.
But now they’re an authority figure. And that may create quite a few problems within your home.
TRY THIS: First, make sure you and your spouse are on the same page when it comes to rules and discipline. It’s important to create the same rules and consequences for all children in your home. Then, call a family meeting and go over these rules with your children. Make sure they understand you and your spouse are working together to raise them. In time, they will see this and the consistency will help them to show respect and avoid manipulation.
Challenge #5: Children start becoming territorial.
Sometimes, if part of the family moves into the other part of the family’s home, children can start becoming territorial.
Expect some arguing and fighting in those first few months. The child that originally lived there might feel threatened and like they’re taking over their turf.
The children moving into the home may feel unwelcome and homesick. The transition can feel sad and take a toll on their emotional health.
Usually, getting a new home isn’t feasible. That’s understandable.
TRY THIS: Try and let each child have their own bedroom. If they must share, create boundaries on dividing the room and let each of them decorate how they please. Create a schedule if someone wants to be in their room alone at times. Always encourage them to share and praise their actions when you see them firsthand.
The Good News
Blended families face a set of unique challenges before and during the blending process. There’s a lot to consider and there will be bumps in the road.
The good news is, all of these challenges can be addressed. Kids often take longer to adjust than we realize. All the squabbles, growing pains, and discipline are well worth the effort because of one thing — FAMILY.
Family is precious and family is worth fighting for!
Mistakes will be made. But you’ll all learn from those mistakes and move forward. Remember — the love in a family lasts a lifetime.