“When I look back at the pictures of our blended family the day Vince and I married, he and I are smiling, and all the children are frowning.” – Amy Grant
In the 21st century, a “blended” family is a common situation. The struggles and culture of two different families living under one roof; attempting to blend old traditions into a larger, entirely new family unit can be a challenge!
No doubt that most couples have put much thought and preparation into blending their families. Still, despite deep commitment and the seemingly-constant efforts made to prepare the children involved, the blended family takes much more work than even the parents had “bargained for.”
“Start by having realistic expectations, particularly if you have children,” says Dr. Anne Brennan Malec, a clinical psychologist and stepmother of six, “the couple is in love and want to spend their lives together, and they can be under the false impression that their children will feel the same way. In reality, children are often confused and have contradictory emotions about the new family setup. Forming a blended family is a long-term process, and it is reasonable to expect some pushback from children, who had no voice in your choice to marry.”
Dr. Phil on Blended Families [Video]
Blended Family Advice For Parents
The child’s small part in this decision is something important to remember. Regardless of the parents’ love for each other, their commitment to their new family, or the child’s affection for the new spouse, problems will arise.
Each parent and their child(ren) come into the new family with habits, family traditions, and memories with which the new spouse and step-siblings have no experience. Though creating “new traditions” as a blended family is encouraged, it’s essential that significant aspects of the family history also remain in order; to keep the children happy and secure.
Blending families is more than just introducing new people into a living situation or even holiday dinners. It’s combining the old with the new and forming unique memories; while retaining the distinctive facets of the older traditions.
READ MORE to see how you can get your blended family to work!
Dr. Phil on Blended Families
One blogger, Mir Karim, shared her own experiences with Huffington Post:
“At the end of the day, I think we’ve managed to build a home that’s full of love and humor and respect. And that’s not because we’re so special or great, but because it was a priority for my husband and me both in our marriage and in raising the kids. There have been hard times (lots of ’em, actually), but we’re all in it together. ‘This is a solvable problem’ is kind of our family motto. So far, it’s been true.”
Blended families can work. It happens every day. The key is to remember that such a thing requires each member of the family (especially the parents) to actually do the work. To make each day and each decision count towards building up the new family for the future.
“Keep trying,” Kamin says, offering advice to the millions of other blended families like hers. “It can take years, but love and respect erode a lot of difficult walls, even if the process is slow. And keep an open mind—maybe the end result isn’t going to be what you’d pictured, but maybe it’ll be even better.”
If your child is struggling in your blended family, our consultants here at Turning Winds Academic Institute are available and committed to helping parents of troubled teens. Call (800) 845-1380 today!