Blended families, opposed to nuclear families, face many different challenges due to the stress of remarriage and integration of new family members. Children may have been raised differently, grown up in a different economic situation, and may now receive different amount of attention from the adults in their life. Learning to recognize the different challenges and constantly working to overcome them will benefit your family cohesion overall.
Sibling Rivalry and Identity Issues
Siblings in nuclear families already face competition and rivalry problems; blended siblings now are competing with other children that they have no history with and may be used to different treatment from their parents. The easiest way to convey your expectations is to sit down with your spouse and children to discuss what is tolerated and what is unacceptable. If you are on the same page as your spouse and act consistently, your core family values will begin to become more established.
In terms of identity issues, children who have relied on their family to be the backbone of their identity may now be questioning what kind of person they are on their own. They can act out in all ways, whether it is emotionally or physically. Along with setting your core family values in place, setting up a reliable routine for the family will help children to feel safer.
Parents from the original families will have to decide who gets custody of which children, how often the other parent can see them, and when they can see them. The legal aspect of divorce can be painfully drawn out and void of rational emotions, which can put children into an awkward position. During the legal separation process, make sure your children know that the decisions made are in their best interest, rather than the interest of the adults. It is important that they understand that the legal proceedings are a formality, rather than a power struggle between the two parents.
In blended families, the number of children combined tends to be higher than in nuclear families. This can create time conflicts, scheduling conflicts, and conflicts of interest when it comes to family activities. Financially, a blended family will most likely have less money for family and extracurricular activities due to the divorce payments. Make sure there is a set schedule where each family member chooses an activity with a certain budget, so it is clear that the activity decisions are made fairly. As a parent, make sure to attend each child’s extracurricular activities rather than favoring one over another.