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    Blended Families: Merging Two Families Under One Roof

    By Nikki Phipps     

    Parenting your own children is difficult enough even under the best of circumstances; however, trying to raise the children of your spouse or partner from a previous marriage or relationship is a trial by error task at best. With more and more marriages ending in divorce, the blended family is quickly becoming a common trend. Statistics report the number of blended families is growing each year, not shrinking. In fact, the blended family has become the most common form of family. The most difficult challenge many of these blended families face is trying to function as a single-family unit. In a blended family, everything from holidays to bedtime and daily routines must sometimes be decided at a momentís notice. Different family histories, traditions, memories, and sometimes even different cultures must be taken into account.

    Another obstacle blended families face is favoritism or loyalty conflicts. Although considered normal, this can be stressful for everyone. Parents may find themselves wedged between filling the needs of their spouse, their children, or even their ex. More often than not, as is the case in my home, the biological parent feels caught between their spouse and one or more of the children regarding rules, discipline, and fairness. Even if all parents agree that a stepparent has the authority to discipline their stepchildren, the children may not agree, causing them to resist, act out, or get depressed. Just as with biological families, if the kids sense any tension between the parents, especially regarding discipline or rules, they will exploit the opportunity in order to gain power over the other children or stepparent.

    Co-parents should try to resist the temptation to fix everything all at once. Instead, they should consider taking baby steps, dealing with issues slowly. Think on the lines of long-term solutions rather than immediate change. Children need time to adjust to new rules, and many changes within the home, especially those concerning the stepchildren, should be initiated by the natural parent. Children need stability, and this should be employed as much as possible through rituals. Children just want to know that they can count on someone and certain rituals, such as regular dinners together or, in our house, a wind down period an hour prior to bedtime.

    Before jumping into a blended family situation, take heed as to how well you and your partner solve problems together. This is going to become a huge factor in the overall success of your blended family life. Unfortunately, this wasnít something that my spouse or I considered. After dating for a little over a year, my two kids and I moved into his house with his three children. We have very different views regarding discipline, behavior, and rules. Needless to say, after nearly six years, weíre still trying to feel like a family, but itís been extremely difficult. Couples really need to discuss the roles that each parent will play in raising their children or changing household rules beforehand. Building family relationships takes time. In fact, it often takes four to seven years before most blended households stabilize.

    Blended families are on the rise. These relationships can be difficult, but with a little time and a lot of patience, two families can successfully become one.

    Written by Nikki PhippsRate this article:

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