|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.
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
before starting a new one: as
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
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 parenting strategies:
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
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 that 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 co-operate.
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
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 MA, © 2007-2017
Questions and comments welcomed.