A blended family is the result of two parents coming together to form a new family unit. Sometimes only one person has children, while in other situations both people do. Blending two groups into one, can create a unique set of family issues and problems. Many times, the transition from a single parent home back to a two parent home goes smoothly. Minor conflicts may arise, but those are normal in any family, blended or not.
Blended family issues vary from situation to situation. Family policy issues pertaining to different discipline and parenting styles seem to be the most common. For the most part, individuals who have chosen to enter into a committed relationship are aware of he other person’s parenting style and are willing to work together to form a blended family in spite of the differences.
Children who grow up in blended families, often have a different perspective about what family really means. Even though they are not related to their step brothers and sisters by blood, the bonds they form can be exceedingly strong and long lasting. Parents who are upfront and honest about their relationships have children who are more accepting and welcoming when it comes to other kids entering the family dynamic.
Parents set the tone for the relationships that are established when two families are blended together. Even though there may be some degree of tension, children will normally learn to get along if it is constantly being reinforced that they are loved. Making sure each child understands their place in the family dynamic is also important. As an older child, they may be given the responsibility of helping with their younger siblings. Teaching them that their particular role is extremely important is also important. It gives them a sense of pride and helps them to feel as if they belong. When both parents offer reassurance, it helps to bring the children together in a way that is beneficial for all.
In the beginning, parents must find unique ways to address the issues they face as parents of a blended family. They often create songs about family issues or play games where the children are made to interact with one another. While this may not solve all of the problems, it does break the ice and allow everyone to get to know one another better. The key to bringing everyone together is to put them in situations where they must rely on one another and learn how to think and act as a team/family.
One of the most common problems in blended families is the differences in age between the children. One parent may have children that are in high school, while the other parent may still be raising toddlers. The age differences can put a strain on the parents who may still be reveling in the honeymoon phase of the relationship. One of the biggest issues when it comes to this situation is the dominance of the older children over the younger ones. In a blended family, bullying may go unreported because the victim does not want to ruin their parents newfound happiness.
During the first year, most parents watch their children rather closely to determine if any issues are present that need to be dealt with. Catching bullying behaviors before they begin to escalate is incredibly important if the children are going to be living together for any length of time.
Parents who are from different social or economic classes may have more difficulty than those who are used to living the same type of lifestyle. Children who are put in environments they are unfamiliar with can sometimes be made fun of by older siblings and their friends. When a child is surrounded by unknowns, they can quickly become the target of bullies who are looking for an easy victim. Some children have no problem making new friends, but it is often the ones who noticeably stand out that have issues.
In situations where social class, is a defining issue. Helping a child to become acclimated to their new surroundings should be a parents’ top priority. Parents who begin to slowly assimilate their child into a new, and sometimes unforgiving environment. help them to overcome the obstacles they would have had if they had just been thrown into the situation with no preparation.
When two families merge that have different religious backgrounds, it’s sometimes difficult for children, especially younger ones, to understand why their new family members don’t go to the same church as they do. It’s important for both parents to help teach their children to embrace one another’s differences without judging or berating them for their beliefs.
Religion is often as big an issue as financial matters in a blended marriage. Not so much between the parents, but between other family members who may not be very accepting of the religious situation in the home. Children are often guided by other family members they look to as role models. When they see them judging or berating others. children will often follow suit. Parents need to talk to their children regularly and make sure the difference in beliefs is not a detriment, but instead, a chance to learn acceptance and appreciation.
Even in conventional families, sibling rivalry can become quite intense. Children are constantly competing for their parents’ attention, especially in families where there are several children. In blended families, when the “new kids” begin to take too much of a biological parents’ attention, the natural children can begin to feel resentment. Kids will often try to get their new siblings into trouble or bully them into leaving their parent alone.
Parents can eliminate this type of behavior if they take great care in how they handle bringing both families together. There are cases, where the children will always have difficulty getting along. For the most part, however, with some steady guidance and personalized attention, children can be brought together and taught to respect one another.
Another place where the effects of sibling rivalry can bleed over into the home of a blended family is from the athletic field. Step brothers and sisters who are close to the same age often try out for the same sporting teams. Instead of competing against one another, the children need to be encouraged to do things together. Practicing with one another will help both improve their skills. If one child is noticeably better or more skilled, they can actually teach the other and help them improve.
Blended Family Business Issues
When a business owner gets remarried, they often make an attempt to invite their new family members to join the family business. Family law issues can arise between a persons’ natural born children and step children if matters are not handled correctly. In large corporations, most matters of this nature are taken care of through attorneys associated with the business. A smaller, family business, however, can experience difficulties if both sides feel they are being unfairly treated by other family members.
Questions about business and how to correctly include step children or other family members should always be discussed with an attorney before broaching the subject with the family. Knowing what is feasible and what isn’t will prevent hard feelings on both sides. Parents who choose to include all of their children (both biological and step) in the family business do so with the best intentions. It is up to them to help both sides accept and adjust to the decision.
Blending two separate families into one cohesive unit can be a challenge. It can also be very rewarding for everyone involved. Handling each situation with tact and respect can help children, no matter what their age, get to know and appreciate their new family members. Fostering positive family relationships is important if parents want to control tension and sibling rivalry. It is the responsibility of both parents to make sure kids are treated equally and fairly within the family dynamic.
When it comes to acceptance and tolerance, children often mimic their parents in many ways. If a parent is extremely harsh or judgmental towards other members of the family, odds are their children will be as well. The golden rule applies to most situations within a blended family. Treating others the way they want to be treated is a life lesson children should learn at a very early age.