The family is the cornerstone of society, where support and love are meant to thrive. The members of a family are bound by blood, marriage, adoption, and other means. A family can be in different forms, like nuclear families, extended families, and other unique dynamics.
In this article, we will explore what a blended family means, the challenges, and solutions to lingering issues that might occur in this type of family setting.
What does a blended family mean?
When it comes to the question of what’s a blended family, it is a family structure resulting from the merging of two distinct families through marriage, partnership, or other means. In a blended family, either or both spouses may integrate their children- adopted or biological, into the new unit.
Blended families often face challenges like other family structures, but they also come up with solutions to address them.
Read this study by Elizabeth Nixon and Kristin Hadfield to learn more about what Blended Families mean.
Why do individuals create blended families?
Blended families are created for different reasons, often due to various life happenings. Here are some of the reasons why a blended family might be created
1. Separation or divorce
When parents in a family get divorced or separated from each other, blended families might be formed when they bring their children from their previous unions into the new marriage. This is often done by seeking the mutual agreement of the new spouses.
2. Desire for companionship
Some people may decide to live with or marry another person irrespective of their marital status or history. If the new spouse has children, it can become a blended family.
3. Parental rights and obligations
If one biological parent is unable to fulfill their duties, they may decide to bring in another parent to help them shoulder the burden of raising a family.
Blended families can be created when parents choose to adopt children, incorporating them into their existing families. This can create a blended family where there is a combination of adopted and biological children.
Some couples may decide to have more children when they remarry, creating a blended family structure where there are children from various relationships.
6 challenges of blended families
While creating blended families has its benefits, it is important to note that there are some challenges that may be encountered. Here are some blended family challenges to look out for.
1. Adjusting to new roles
One of the likely blended family difficulties is when family members find it hard to adapt to the new responsibilities and roles.
For instance, someone who is becoming a step-parent might struggle initially because they are responsible for catering to the new children. They may need to take time to study the new family dynamics before understanding how things work.
2. Conflicts between co-parents
When a blended family is formed, there might be conflicts between both parents, especially when it comes to their parenting styles. This is one of the blended family problems associated with having different parenting strategies that have worked for each person over time.
If this is not handled properly, it can affect the children’s well-being.
Regarding the challenges of a blended family, one of the likely occurrences is loyalty conflicts. Children in blended families might find it hard to decide where their loyalty lies. They may feel stuck between being loyal to their biological parents or their new step-parents.
4. Sibling rivalry
During the establishment of a blended family, sibling rivalry may occur. The children may find it challenging to adjust to their new step-siblings. This can cause jealousy or rivalry because they are not used to staying around each other.
5. Financial problems
When families are combined to form a blended family unit, financial problems might be one of the constraints.
If there is no proper planning of how the money will be spent, financial issues can occur, which may cause conflicts in the home. Also, if one of the parents is not as buoyant as their partner, it can bring financial strain.
6. Communication problems
Any type of family faces communication issues, and a blended family is not left out. During the early stages of a blended family, problems are likely to occur because of communication gaps.
If the communication style is not addressed, it would lead to more conflicts, which could cause resentment among family members. The lack of effective communication or miscommunication will always cause conflicts and misunderstandings in a blended family.
Having identified the challenges of blended families, finding a long-lasting solution is crucial to restoring balance and creating a successful blended family. Here are some solutions to address blended family issues.
1. Open communication
It is important to mention that communication is one of the crucial elements in any family setting. For a blended family to thrive, open and honest communication needs to be prioritized.
Open dialogue should be encouraged where everyone is free to speak their minds and express their feelings and concerns. Such conversations should be as polite and respectful as possible, devoid of spiteful remarks or insults.
There should be expectations and boundaries for both parents and children. This will help everyone live in harmony and have mutual respect for each other. It is crucial to enforce the boundaries rule to create a sense of fairness.
Watch this video to learn how to set boundaries:
3. Respect the pre-existing family dynamics
When a blended family is created, it would be wrong to think that everything will change immediately. Everyone may need some time to adjust to the new family style.
For instance, if a parent is very close with their children, it might be impossible to think that their children will have the same closeness level instantly. You will have to give it time so that they can get used to you.
4. Spend quality time
One of the reasons why some families thrive, and others may not, is because they don’t spend quality time with each other.
To strengthen the bond in a family, it is important to create time to spend with each other. Consider some bonding activities like games night, dates night, movies night, etc.
5. Work on financial planning
Money is usually one of the biggest causes of conflicts in a family. Ensure you create a financial plan outlining expenses and income. Parents in the family should be transparent about financial matters to avoid issues.
You will be able to understand the root cause of the problems and learn strategies to create a lasting solution. Sometimes, a mediator, who might be a therapist, can be the game-changer to restoring your family on the right track.
Here are the answers to some pressing questions that can help you understand the various aspects of blended families better:
What are the 3 major issues associated with a blended family?
Blended families often face many issues. One of these issues is role confusion and adjustments, where everyone in the new family is confused about how to adapt to their new roles.
Another issue is differences in parenting styles, which can negatively impact family dynamics. Emotional challenges might also happen in a blended family due to reasons like loyalty, grief, etc.
How can you prepare for a blended family?
One of the ways to prepare for a blended family is to have open and honest conversations with your partner about everything, as communication helps to build trust. Also, focus on building solid relationships with step-children and spend quality time with them.
What should you discuss before blending families?
Before blending families, it is important to discuss the following: Roles and expectations, parenting styles, children’s feelings, legal and custody matters, and family values. Discussing these issues will help everyone know what to expect when the blended family is formed.
Which person should come first in a blended family?
In a blended family, everyone is important. Nobody should be considered more important than anyone. Everyone’s needs should be equally prioritized and given equal attention.
When decisions are made, it should be in the best interest of the family and not anyone in particular, except for unique cases.
Having understood what a blended family means, it is important to watch out for the challenges so that you can apply the solutions to address them. You can also read this book by Phil Collins to learn how to build a blended family.
If you are thinking of when to call it quits in a blended family, consider the services of a qualified therapist or family counselor for help before making the decision.
Noah loves to write on matters of the heart and mind. His experiences have taught him that being an honest friend who communicates well and giving importance to self-love can go a long way in maintaining loving relationships.
When Read more he’s not writing or advising people on how to thrive in their relationships, he loves exploring new places with his partner, working out, and pretending that he’s good at cooking exotic stuff.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.