|The Blended Family:
Blending - Merging - Combining Two Families
The Blending: Fairness to the Children:
There should be one rule for everyone! Child rearing is a huge problem in blended
families, but it's not the only issue in your all when you have learned to negotiate.
Guidelines that will help you negotiate a consensual, mutually acceptable agreement:
Set ground rules to make negotiations pleasant and safe:
Choose the solution that is appealing to both of you.
The reason you argue is that you are incompatible; you have not learned how to
act in the interest of both of you at the same time. That will come with time, patience,
perseverance, and above all, respect, love and caring.
Suggested additional reading: Healing From Divorce
Dawn Cove Abbey
Deerfield, (Yarmouth County) Nova Scotia, Canada
(1985 – rev: 2010-17)
A blended or merged family
is one where two adults (or
at least, one) who were
previously married, or in
a relationship with someone
else, and start a new life
and relationship together,
with one or both
bringing children into it.
It commonly requires people
at least one year to "get
over" a previous
before starting a new one:
as do children.
The "failure" rate for blended families is about 90% - to avoid being one of them, there are
things to consider, and do to ensure success. In a way, starting a blended family is not much
different from starting a brand-new first-time marriage or relationship. This is because the
ingredients for the two adults (the couple) in a blended family are exactly the same as for first-
timers: love, respect, understanding, etc. It will be a challenge - and what follows is the "ideal"
- each couple will work out their own pattern.
But blending, merging or combining two families poses some challenges that first-timers do
not have to deal with immediately. Blending families in second (or third) marriages is one of
the greatest cause of divorce. Very few of these marriages survive five years - unless they take
some important preventative steps. Perhaps reading Rebound Relationships and/or Healing
From Divorce will be helpful to you.
Merging, and blending a family can bring great conflict: and one of the major causes, if not
the main cause, is children. We'll get back to that down below. Success will take a lot of
thought, planning, and hard work (and hopefully as little interference from "ex's" as possible).
It is good to remember that there are no perfect families - just ones that "work", and ones
that don't work.
The challenge, or challenges in starting a blended, merged, or combined family are greater
than just starting a new relationship, because there are more people (personalities) involved.
These all bring carry-over issues and "baggage" from the former situation (including a not-
always-obvious grieving process over the former/old situation especially with the children.
There will be divided loyalties former, previous, or ex-spouses may be uncooperative -
and may try to sabotage your new situation.
Each parent will tend to be protective, or over-protective of their children.
The protectiveness, and issues/baggage are sources of conflict (not just potential conflict)
- the conflict will happen.
Blended Families Have To Deal With:
- where to live,
- what to call each other,
- how to include the other spouse and relatives,
- how to establish emotional ties with the children and
- how to discipline the children.
Blended families can mean less privacy, more noise, shared space and fewer
opportunities for time alone. There will also, of course, be left-over hurts, and
anger (especially on the children's part). These must be taken into account. A
childless man or woman marrying into a family with children will need to learn
Children: it is common (and understandable) for each spouse to put his or her
own children's interests first. It is often in an effort to compensate for the trauma
children experience when there is a divorce.
But when the children's interests are first, the interests of the other spouse and the
other spouse's children are found somewhere down the list, and that's a formula
for marital disaster.
There are no instant solutions to solve this.
Children need time to adjust to having step-brothers and sisters, or perhaps
half-brothers and sisters.
Adults in combined families are not without their challenges either. They may be
working to get past the “baggage” of the previous relationship or dealing with
tension or conflict with ex-spouses, new stepchildren, or both. They’re faced with
creating a new, melded family with its own identity, while still honoring the
identities of each family member.
Some of the changes would be drastic (after all, having a new, strange adult
and other children suddenly in your life day after day, is very drastic).
As a parent, they get on-the-job training in being flexible, dealing with change,
being fair and impartial, getting and staying organized, following more
complicated schedules – and managing the new money arrangements.
It’s not an easy task.
When two families are combined, each family brings its own set of rules, rituals, traditions and
loyalties (culture). Values, household responsibilities and ways of doing things that were
established in one family must now be reconfigured into a new family structure: all of these
have to be blended and merged into one workable, working unit.
It is likely that different types of talents and interests, lifestyles and ways of spending leisure
time will exist and may even clash. In fact, some, or many of those will look "weird" or
strange to each other. Yet, they weren't weird or strange in the home they originated in, that
was "just the way they did things". In short, each was different.
And there's nothing wrong with difference - it's just that those differences have to be worked
out into a new, combined, blended way of doing things. The first noticeable thing will be
hat life will never be the same again - for any members of the "new" family. There is no
initial break-in period after which everything resorts to "normal" - or the same as it used to
be (also see Culture, because two families merging is similar to two cultures meeting).
It no longer is "what it used to be". There are now two "groups" from different backgrounds
living in the same space. Each group was used to its way of doing things, and ways of going
about things. They were also used to certain patterns of activities, certain ways to be treated
and treating others; certain ways of talking and communicating, etc.
All those now belong to the past. It will not be the same: it can be worse, it can be better
- but it will be different. And the difference can again be "bad difference" or "good
difference". Which it will be will depend on the planning the two adults did, and how well
they prepared their respective children. It also depends on how well all the members
A new way, one which combines the best from both previous situations - in a new blend
will be the way the "new" family does things, goes about things, and how they treat each
other and get treated. No-one member will get everything from the "old way" they
wanted - but since that applies to all equally - it is not unfair to any one person. All will
have to get used to it in order for the blending, merging or combining to be successful.
All the above is true even for two people who are entering into a first marriage/
relationship. But then, there are only two people to make adjustments, and only two
extended families in the background. In blended families, there are many other who
have to make adjustments, and more extended families to deal with and incorporate
into the scheme of things - thus increasing the challenge, and the risk.
On-going adjustments bring a danger: because we tend to be focused on what we are
doing - it will seem, or feel, to each person that they are the one who is always doing
all the adjusting - while in fact, everyone is doing it at the same time. We tend not to
notice the others' adjustments. Being aware of the others is important to offset this
feeling. Understanding these realities of the blended family or step-family structure
can reduce some of the frustrations of step-parenting.
It takes three to five years for family members to adjust to the newly formed "blended
family." This includes adapting to new people, different kinships and new roles.
Tension may exist surrounding such issues as new roles, different last names and
adoption of stepchildren.
|Dawn Cove Abbey
"Roadside Assistance" For Your Journey Through Life
- Dedicated to helping people return (and maintain) sanity and decency to life -
From the eBook: "One! The Journey hOMe", by Klaas Tuinman © 2007-2019
Questions and comments welcomed.