It’s never easy to blend families. The modern step-family (now called blended family) comes with a lot of common conflicts. Most of the common conflicts occur between the parents who are blending their children’s’ lives together. Frequently, they will involve one parent upset because they feel the other parent is taking the side of their own children and disregarding their step-children.
The big problem is trying to understand that with a blended family, the children now have two different types of parents. They have a biological parent and a new step-parent. Of course, if the other biological parent is remarried, it can result in the child having two separate blended homes.
You have time: It’s vital for you to remember that love doesn’t develop overnight. Instead, within a healthy blended family love develops over time. In your adult relationship, you needed time to for your relationship to develop. There were months or years in between you meeting, dating, falling in love, being engaged and getting married. Even if your children were a large part of the relationship from the beginning, you may have to start the cycle over again after getting remarried. Children need time to develop lasting relationships. So, it’s important not to rush them in the process. Most children will develop feelings of love and attachment to their step-parent, over time, if the parent is patient and loving to them.
Dealing with new authority: Sometimes a new blended family brings on resentment from children when they realize they must answer to another adult. Many children will state, “You’re not my father so you can’t tell me what to do!” It is very difficult to treat someone else’s child with the same understanding you’d show your own. So, there may be some truth in the matter a child feels they’re being treated unfairly by a step-parent. In fact, sometimes a step-parent is less objective of their own children. They may be more critical of step-children. Most step-parents are only trying to be good parents; however step-children can become defensive if they feel judged. Learning to deal with this struggle is vital and requires patience on the part of all people involved.
Trust is important in step-parenting: To function properly, all families must recognize the importance of trust. This is especially true in a blended family. To begin with, both parents must be able to fully trust one another. Even if the blended family had created the family through childbirth, instead of remarriage, they would likely have two different parenting styles. It’s important to use communication and understanding, to develop trust for individual parenting styles.
While adjusting to something different can be scary, it’s not always bad! It’s important to talk with each other about values or rules that are important to each of you. In addition, you should also talk about feelings and how your family is changing. It’s very important for your children to witness your modeling of communication and acceptance. Find a way to talk about any difference, make compromises and present a united front. This will allow the children to feel secure and adjust more quickly.
Blending families can be a real challenge within a marriage. If you find it too difficult to tackle, don’t give up! Instead, seek help from a family therapist who is experienced in blended families.