So, you have decided to take the plunge and enter into a new relationship.
You may already have children, and so may your partner.
Trying to work out how to blend these two existing families to form one new one, and keep everybody happy, is quite a challenge.
The children involved in this blended family may not be nearly as excited by this new situation, as their parents. They may be worried about upcoming changes and how to deal with new step-parents and step-siblings. Changes in family dynamics will be enormous and can be very frightening to some children. Parents too, have to learn how to deal with children they may have not known very long, with different values and habits, to their own. All of these issues can cause stress in the new relationships.
To have the best chance of successfully blending families, rules and guidelines should be agreed before combining them. Seeking help from a therapist is often helpful beforehand and is certainly recommended when it is clear that adjustment problems are arising that can’t be easily dealt with.
These are some of the common problems that can arise from blended families:
- Discipline issues – which parent is responsible for which child
- Different values and beliefs
- In-laws – old and new
- Ex-partners – custody arrangements, visitation rights
- Agreement on issues such as education, religion, family rules and boundaries
- Disruptive or problem children
- Sibling jealousy
- Loss of couple time due to problems with the blended family, leading to resentment and insecurity
When communication is clear there are fewer opportunities for misunderstanding and more possibilities for connection between all parties. I have many years’ experience in dealing with all couple relationship problems, including those unique to blended families.