The blended family (conclusion)

May 7, 2020

This entire month the focus has been on the blended/ step-family. While it has been established that step-parenting can be challenging, it can be rewarding as well. While many believe the terrible myths about step-families, in this conclusion, I have included information from Psychology Today indicating 80 percent of children of divorce or remarriage do succeed. The article provided research conducted by Mavis Hetherington, Ph.D. and James Bray, Ph.D. (“Hetherington/ Bray Research”).1

Hetherington/Bray’s Research found that children in post-divorce and remarriage families may experience depression, conduct disorders, lower academic performance, and delinquency. Such problems are the result of reductions in parental attention that may immediately follow divorce or remarriage. There are the distractions of starting a new marriage. Such lapses may also be the outgrowth of parental conflict. They may reflect a noncustodial parent’s withdrawal from the scene altogether. There’s the stress of reductions in resources–typically, the lowered income of divorced mothers–and the disruption of routines, so highly valued by children, when two residences are established.

The Hetherington/Bray’s Research, however, is quick to point to their finding that 80 percent of children of divorce and remarriage do not have behavior problems, despite the expectations and challenges, compared to 90 percent of children of first marriage families. In other words, children whose parents divorce and remarry are not doomed.

The Hetherington/Bray Research recognize this high success rate is a testament to the resilience of children. With additional study and research, we can learn a lot more about the strengths in step-families and how to support them.

Co-Parenting

A quote attributed to “Anonymous” notes that “co-parenting is not asking permission. It’s about discussing your children’s needs and wants and deciding what’s best.” When a divorce, separation and/or remarriage forces a disruption in the family, co-parenting is important for the children involved. “Co-parent” is defined as a person (such as a non-custodial parent or cohabiting partner) who shares parental duties with a custodial parent. Co-parenting is also known as joint parenting or shared parenting. Finally, I want to present a few Do’s and Don’ts of Co-Parenting2:

Do’s:

• Commit to making co-parenting an open dialogue with your Ex.
• Rules should be consistent and agreed upon at both households.
• Commit to positive talk around the house.

Don’ts:

• Jump to conclusions or condemn your Ex.
• Give into guilt.
• Accuse, but discuss.

Beloved, if you need counseling to help deal with step-parenting issues that have arisen in your family, confide in your pastor or biblical counselor/therapist who will be able to help you navigate and understand issues that can and may arise in blended families.

Sources:

1 Psychology Today, Lessons from Stepfamilies, by Virginia Rutter (last reviewed 6/9/16).
2 Psychology Today, The Do’s and Don’ts of Co-Parenting Well, by Deborah Serani Psy.D., May 2012.

Next Month: #ALSAwareness

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