Merging two families is difficult for obvious reasons: they are different
and it’s hard to mesh to things that are different into one functioning
unit. There are differences in parenting styles, discipline techniques,
overall lifestyle, etc. These differences often become even more pronounced
when the two families move in together and begin attempts to “blend.”
When this occurs, it can be a major source of frustration for the children involved.
What are Some Common Stepfamily Issues that Should be Top Priority?
Unfairness: Make it a priority to have some unity regarding household living. Discuss
things like rules, chores, discipline, allowance, etc. so that everyone
is on the same page and the basics are clear and understood. If you are
able to agree on consistent guidelines up front, your kids will be clear
on the strategies of the household and you and your spouse will be ready
to deal with issues in a similar fashion. This will greatly reduce one
of the most common stepfamily issues: unfairness.
Age Differences: Age can pose a dilemma in blended families with some children having birthdays
that are closer to one another than is possible with natural siblings.
In other blended families the age dilemma is more of a problem related
to the new stepparent in situations when the new “parent”
is only a few years older than the oldest child. Don’t ignore these
situations. Address them immediately and carefully.
Parental Inexperience: In some blended families, one parent may be entirely new to the role.
They may have no experience in the various stages that children go through, etc.
Changes to Family Relationships: When both parents remarry after divorce to partners that have existing
families it can result in children that find themselves in different roles
in two different blended families very suddenly. For instance, a child
could be the eldest in one stepfamily, but the youngest in the other stepfamily.
Or in some other situations the issue becomes a loss of uniqueness as
being the only boy or girl suddenly disappears with the blending of a
family with other boys/girls.
Difficulty Accepting a New Step Parent: In some instances, children will have a particularly difficult time accepting
a new step parent. It could be that this is brought on because they have
simply spent a lot of time in a one-parent family or the difficulty may
stem from them holding out hope that their parents will reconcile.
Coping with the Demands of Coordinating Events: When families are blended, the planning of family events can get more
complicated. This is particularly true when there are legal decision making
and parenting time considerations to consider on one or both sides of
the family. The children involved will sometimes feel frustrated that
fun family events like parties or vacations now require a complicated
series of coordinated arrangements in order to include their new stepfamily.
This is in no way an exhaustive list of the difficulties that stepfamilies
may face, but it is a good start. All in all, try to recognize the differences
in stepfamilies so that you can understand and accept that some of the
problems are likely to show up in your new family structure. Recognizing
the problem is often the most important step in successfully blending
For more information on stepfamilies,
Arizona divorce or
legal decision making and parenting time, please get in touch with
Arizona Family Law Attorneys. We can assist you with any legal issues and help set the stage for a
successful blending of families with your new partner.