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Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Creating A Blended Family

Researchers suggest that almost 1/3 of all children in America will live in a blended family environment by the time they reach the age of 18. Lets look at some of the challenges, as well as some tips for making this transition successful.

One of the greatest challenges is the role of the stepparent in disciplining of children. What do you suggest?
• Let the biological (custodial) parent be the primary disciplinarian and take on more of the parenting responsibilities
• Allow the new stepparent the ability to create a “friend or camp counselor” role vs. disciplinarian.
• Create new house rules, which help everyone get on the same page regarding expectations.
• Be aware that it is natural for the blending process is uncomfortable and rocky. Couples that work together in harmony and are consistent will find the greatest path for success.

Are there typical responses for different aged children?

• Yes, research indicates that young children under 10 generally adjust easier to blending of families.
• Children under 10 are very attentive to feeling abandoned, so it is imperative that the biological parent creates time alone w/ their child.
• Ages 10-14 typically are the most difficult in adjusting to the blended family. Many times this age tends to be oppositional and it is important to adhere to some of the suggestions we talked about.
• Teens 15 and above typically are less involved with the family and the blending and many times prefer to separate from the family and create their own identities outside the new unit. They are less interested in bonding and may show some real discomfort with any romantic or sexual behaviors in their presence.

What are some tips for making this transition less stressful?
• Acknowledge that this process will take time and it will not magically come together overnight
• Realize that as a stepparent you may want a relationship, but the child may not be ready to establish a relationship w/you on your time schedule. Remember not to take rejection personally—it is a reaction to the situation and not you.
• Be realistic about your expectations of the process and look for positive achievements related to friendship and cooperation
• Remember that each child may react differently to the blending and look for individual means for creating harmony and cooperation.
• Allow the opportunity for open discussion of emotions. Create time for sharing and brainstorming.
• Be open to accessing professional counseling to help with the transitional process.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting that your topic would be "Blended Families." I married a man who had a 4 1/2 year old son. I had never viewed myself as a parent and along came my husband with son as an added bonus! I was very happy to have the opportunity to have my son in my life and I wanted to share so much with him. However, those were not his wishes. Whatever I liked he didn't. His father was a "couch potato", but he began to take an interest in what activities and even joined some teams. Even with his dad's interest in sports building, our son wanted no part of it.
We believed that people find their own interest in life and along the way they would make friends with coomon interest. The interest were there,friends and friendships did not follow.
He continued to refer to my husband as: "My Dad"-- impling complete and total owership. I remained a outsider.
This happened I believe because I was "pushed" into the role of the only displine my son received. I urge others not to make the same mistake. Make the boy's father take control. Or you will end up as "The Wicked Witch" stepmother and your son will wrap his father around his little finger!