Single parent, stepparent, or blended families are common today. While no one plans to be someone’s stepmother or stepfather, this can happen anytime and to anyone. For instance, one day, your spouse may wake up and decide that they would rather be with someone else. Their decision might leave you with a new label – divorcee, besides a wounded and bleeding heart.
Fortunately, your bleeding heart heals with time and may find love sooner than you thought. In this case, you might find a person whose journey parallels yours, and each of you might have a daughter or son that you have been raising alone.
Coming together with children from a previous relationship as well as the children you will have together forms a blended family. Creating a blended family can either be rewarding or challenging. If not well executed, blending a family can leave some members of this new union voiceless, lead to disagreements or create tension in the family.
This article reveals the truth about blended families. It highlights some things that are overlooked when blending families.
Let’s get started.
Why Do Blended Families Fail?
Nearly 70% of blended families end up in a divorce. Many factors contribute to this outcome but preparing before entering a blended family or when you’re in one can minimize the likelihood of your marriage ending up that way.
Here are common reasons why blended families fail.
Poor Preparation: This simply means stepping into stepparenting without any preparation. You can avoid that by considering family counseling, taking classes, and reading books. It’s important to know that a blended family is not the same as a nuclear family. The blended one has additional parties such as ex-spouses, stepchildren, or step-grandparents, who you should consider before getting into this type of marriage.
Unrealistic Expectations: Stepsiblings, ex-spouses, and you will not always get along. You might not bond well with your spouse’s kids, which can breed resentment, jealousy, rebellion, etc. Your ex-spouses might even stir contention and make the marriage more unbearable than you expected. But it’s important to be prepared, anticipate such problems, and figure out in advance how you will handle these issues when they arise.
Sibling Rivalry: All types of families have sibling rivalry. However, it can be more unmanageable in a blended family than in a nuclear family. This may arise as children fight for their parent’s attention and love. They might become competitive and spiteful towards their siblings when they sense any form of favoritism.
Neglecting the Marriage: Entering a blended family unprepared can cause you to raise your children from a position of guilt. It can also contribute to children’s negative behavior or attitude towards one another and stepparents. This can cause you to neglect your marriage as you try to rebuild your relationship with your kids.
Troublesome Ex-Partners: As mentioned, a blended marriage has an extra party that can only be eliminated by death. An ex is an important person, especially to their kids, and can determine how this new marriage turns out. So work towards having a healthy, cordial relationship with your spouse’s ex because they can influence the overall stability of the family. For instance, they can make life unbearable through regular visitation or train their children to be disrespectful to you.
Disciplining Stepchildren: Each parent has a different parenting style, making co-parenting challenging. As a result, your approach to discipline might be mistaken to be abuse, and problems might arise between you. You may sometimes criticize your partner’s biological kids, or they may do so to yours. Any offensive comments about stepkids can sow a seed of annoyance to each other’s hearts.
Negative Comments from the Outside World: Spouses should prepare their children to handle negative comments from the outside world. Because some people don’t understand a blended family, they may say hurtful things about your family. This external pressure can split your family if you’re not prepared to handle the challenge outsiders pose to your new family.
Who Comes First in a Blended Family?
Who should come first in a blended family? Your partner or your children? Many blended families face this dilemma. A couple develops their relationship first before becoming parents in a nuclear family. However, things are different in a blended family.
In such a setup, the parent may tend to prioritize their relationship with their children or their needs. This can happen at the expense of their partner. Therefore, living in a blended family is not easy because it’s a mix of personalities, expectations, and needs, making it hard to navigate.
However, you can navigate these challenges by spending quality time with your partner and child. In fact, doing so can help to strengthen the bond with your children and with your partner.
Even with this, you might be required to choose who comes first in a blended family. Here is how you can handle that concern.
· When to Put Your Child First
The bond between you and your child is unique and unconditional; however, this is different when it comes to your relationship with an adult. Further, children depend on their parents, so parents might want to prioritize their kids. Also, the kid expects their dad or mom to protect them and be their priority. As a result, the new partner should not compete with a child or try to break the parent-child bond or relationship.
Further, parents will always want their children to be their priority in life. So you should provide consistency to your child when you create a blended family. However, you can do things together as a family to ensure that everyone feels involved and welcomed.
Additionally, your child will be a priority when their safety or health is at risk. You may prioritize them when the partner tries to discipline them in a manner that you didn’t agree on from the start.
· When Your Partner is Your Priority
It’s important to put your partner first to show your children what a loving relationship looks like. Children learn a lot from observing what their parents are doing, and your new relationship gives you a second chance to demonstrate to your children what a great relationship is like. In fact, your children need to cultivate good relationships and resilience because these skills will help them in the future.
Prioritizing your partner teaches your children how you want them to treat them. It shows them that your partner is important in all your lives. Indeed, blended families can succeed when you love each other, show understanding and support. It will thrive when you demonstrate that the relationship with your spouse is important.
You can show it through small meaningful gestures. These include supporting your spouse’s decision when it’s important and valuable to the family. You can support their discipline or decisions and discuss any issues with your partner in private to avoid making them feel undermined.
Therefore, your partner comes first when your children are disrespectful to them. You should also prioritize them when other family members or ex-partners try to undermine them.
Can Blended Families be Happy and Healthy?
Yes. Blended families can be extremely happy and healthy if the following points are considered when blending it.
Invest in the Union
Inform your children that you want to remarry and who will be your partner. Have your future spouse join in your conversation with your teenagers. This will help children become friends with your partner and avoid seeing them as an unwanted party in the family. However, this might seem uncomfortable and nervous to all parties, but you will be unified at the end of the session.
Your children should see you as one because cultivating a union defined by oneness is the foundation of a successful, well-blended family. However, you might be torn between loyalties. You might struggle with love for your spouse, love for your children, his love for his children, etc. This begs the question, who wins when sides are to be taken? While this might be a struggle initially, moving forward in unity produces better results than choosing one side over the other.
This is true particularly when parents cultivate unity and breathe oneness in the marriage. Indeed, their example allows harmony to flow into all relationships in the family. So developing oneness as marriage partners is the key to nurturing unity in the family. This is an important investment.
Every Marriage is a Blended Family
Most partners think that the blended nature of the family is what is making them fail. However, this is a lie because every marriage is a blended family. When two people from different families and backgrounds marry, they’re blending their lives, values, traditions, dreams, priorities, families, and much more.
In fact, these new weds face challenges as they continue blending everything they have. Likewise, blended families face challenges as they integrate their family life. In fact, these problems are common to all family life irrespective of the label it wears.
Sometimes people’s lives deviate from the original blueprint. However, embracing the blessings when your reality falls short of the ideal plan can be helpful. Likewise, you will need to be flexible in a blended family setup.
You will need to bend some things such as family dinners, bedtime routines, household chores, holidays, and birthday celebrations. In other words, you must let go of what you think is ideal and be happy and contented with reality. This change is what will fill your home with life and joy.
Nurture an Environment of Love and Acceptance
Everyone feels better when they sense that there are loved and adored. This is a key ingredient in a blended family. It’s important to realize that every family member has experienced some loss. The dad and mom lost their initial partners, and the children lost one of their parents. As a result, every member is unsure of the root cause of the loss as well as their role in the matter.
They may be wondering whether they will fit at all in the new one. The saying “Once bitten, twice shy” may be filling their mind. However, giving each family member a large and continuous dose of love can heal the wounds and clear their doubts.
Express love, kindness, and care to each member of the family that you reflect on and let them know that you have been thinking about them. Affirm their worth when you get the chance. In fact, use kind words, compliments, connections, hugs, and kisses to let every family member feel lavishly loved. Letting them know that they mean the world to you will make your blended family healthy and happy.
Show Respect to Spouse’s and Your Ex
Showing respect to someone who hurt you in the past can be tricky. However, doing so demonstrates your character and doesn’t also valid their behavior.
It’s important to lead by example and show respect to your ex because it demonstrates to your children that you’re full of integrity, and they should imitate that. Further, respecting your spouse’s ex-wife or husband minimizes tension in your marriage. It’s important to note that the ex-wife is their biological mother while the ex-husband is their father, and nothing can replace that, including you.
Accepting that fact and avoiding negative comments about them in front of their children or at all times can eliminate conflict in your marriage. Indeed, showing them respect and not undermining them can help improve relationships in the family and between yourselves.