It is a truth seldom universally acknowledged that some relations best survive apart. Not quite clear? Imagine yourself taking fancy towards nurturing a harmless cat and your mother incurs diphtheria. Blended families suffer pretty much the same predicament. In major cases, middle-aged couples no doubt bring with them years of accumulated maturity; but there also drags with them mostly uninvited, the progeny of past relations. And it is this undiluted heterogeneous mixture that pops up recurrent hiccups of open resentment, aggression, and palpable foreboding that become rigidly nonresponsive to diverse parenting medications.
According to statistics, nearly 75% of the whopping 1.2 million Americans who divorce each year end up remarrying. Very conveniently looms up the imminent debacles of estranged relations. But what makes the transition so difficult? Why is a stepmother or stepfather subjected to don the ominous cap of evil perennially? Let’s get into the skin of the curable clutter.
What is a blended family
When promising couples eager to start afresh from the ruinous shambles of a previous life, hitch onto each other to form a unifying whole, they may be escorted by their reluctant kids, and the manner of such coexistence is what we ascribe as blended families.
But dear stepparents, remember, sweet are the uses of adversity. Hence, before surrendering, make one last try. These anecdotes might help while parenting in blended families.
Problems and issues with blended families
Unwillingness to share: The unification of two families impinges hitherto unperceived problems like wounded feelings, neglect, agony – all surfaced on the part of stepkids.
A child growing up in the assured cocoon of his biological parent has his sense of security ruptured on being compelled to share that coveted realm with others. The space where he has reigned as the undisputed monarch, now by the enforcement of parental laws, has the rebelling encroachment of grudging neighbors. Thus, slowly gains up a rivalry to outshine, to dominate, to seize hold of that lost place by hook or by crook.
Parent-child relation after second marriage: Parents unconsciously resemble that all-pervading umbrella that can securely withstand the onslaught of every perilous storm and keep us safe. Thus possessiveness over parents gets ingrained in a child’s heart and soul even if subconsciously. When the self-same child sees his mom or dad juggling his time and affection between himself and newly formed relations, resentment bursts into limitless proportions, transmitting bitter impulses to the naïve brain to demand more space and time from the severed parent.
Teenage children: In the last straw of the perilous teen age, the emotionally vulnerable mind struggles to safeguard his self-identity. When mom opts for a name change, the self-dissecting issue of identity crisis crops up and culminates to feelings of abandonment and depression.
The older a stepchild, more prohibitive is the sprouting of a natural bond. Raging confusions concerning the way one is expected to feel induces the mind into a state of flux with the inevitable result that harmonious coexistence forever remains a forsaken land. Preconceived notions can subject an uprising teenager to dislike, oppose and reject a stepparent, even cultivating jealousy.
Apart from these, there can also emerge the discomfort of step-grandparents who can be partial to the respective biological grandchild when a blended family is created.
How to make blended families work: Seeking advice for mixed families
Spare the leadership while parenting stepchildren: Judiciously allow the biological parent steer the mast of your complicated relation. Know for sure that even if your cooperation in the active nurturing of the unsettling kid is appreciable, you can never be a replacement of the real parent.
Remember the wedding vows: Serenading under mellow bushes with mushy promises to securely harbor stepkids confronts an ugly, unprecedented turn on facing unabashed repulsion from the so-long-dear stepkids. Stepping into the shoes of a new stepdad or stepmom may have accounted for a couple of hours, but the stepchild finds dad’s long-standing girlfriend a distasteful food to digest. To overcome these challenges:
- Invest copious amounts of time and patience to reap the flowering of a natural bond.
- Iron out the rough creases of bitterness in a blended relationship with humor and empathy. Subject your stepchild’s petty mischiefs on a dose of easy humor but emphatically point out your hurt feelings on his deliberate irreverence. He cannot get away with disrespecting you.
Maintain discipline: Shouldering responsibilities of a merged family may even send Atlas on a back seat. Your honest intentions to turn off TV after 11 pm might be cited as forceful interference by your spouse who might see it as passé. Different parental expectations regarding discipline clog the pores of easy compliance, implanting sources of vindictive accuses the kid can pit about the new mother. Children overcome confusion and insecurity when they observe enforcement of steady and fair discipline from parents.
- Both stepparents should have a candid communication of each of your preferences concerning the stepchildren.
- Consign upon the rules both of you would want your kids to abide by, for instance, how much TV kids should watch.
- Do not crop up pressing adult issues before stepkids.
- Focus on having a clear idea about the new family’s budget.
Blended family bonding: United we stand, divided we fall: The prospect of a merging family may be looked upon as an encroachment into one’s native territory. Being an able captain, fortify your post with togetherness and love.
- Incorporate every stepkid in resourceful family meetings for better step relationship.
- Assign responsibilities like dusting duty, sweeping duty and also decide upon the possible consequences of the rules on being overlooked or broken.
- Impart liberty to the kids to select their bedroom and decorate it if sharing is a must. Be impartial about the space allocated to each kid to avoid pent up grudges. You’ll see that the disadvantages are slowly being replaced by harmonious advantages in the process of having a family blended.
Go for a family counseling: Despite such rigorous preventive measures, when you realize all your patient endeavors are likely to be futile, it’s time to get help from professionals. Counseling may prove effective if you stumble upon complete absence of co-parenting or if one child is favored in comparison to the other by a discontented grandparent.
Approaching the end of this article, a few lines from Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” comes to mind:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Indeed it’s your chosen path that perhaps makes you susceptible to a host of challenges. But realize at the end of the day that you are the determined teacher of this big naughty class, and it is up to you to decide whether you’d suspend the entire lot or mold them through remedial classes. Sit back and ponder.