The blended family (Week 3)

April 23, 2020

Did you know that many, but not all, remarriages involve blended families? According to data from the National Center for Health Statistics,1 6 in 10 (63 percent) women in remarriages are in blended families, and about half of these remarriages involve stepchildren who live with the married couple. While blended families involve remarriage, not all remarriages produce blended families. Remarriages involving spouses who have no children from prior relationships would not create blended families.

In addition, this same study reported that Hispanic, African American and Caucasian children are equally likely to live in a blended family. About 17 percent of Hispanic and African American children are living with a step-parent, step-sibling or a half-sibling, as are 15 percent of Caucasian children. It can take several years for a child to form a bond with a stepfather or mother. But once that bond is formed it can be fantastic! In continuation of the articles on step-parenting, this week, I will present Dr. Phil’s concluding advice on how to create a phenomenal family.

What Role Should Stepparent Play?
By Dr. Phil

#4. It is important that the step-parent not have unrealistic expectations about their level of closeness or intimacy with the step-children. Relationships are built, and it takes time and shared experiences to create a meaningful one. The step-parent should also be aware that the child may be experiencing a fair amount of emotional confusion and may in fact feel guilty that they’re betraying their biological mother or father by having a close and caring relationship with their step-mother or father.

#5. The step-parent should actively support the child’s relationship with the biological mother or father no longer in the home. If you are in the role of step-father, you should make it a priority to nurture a relationship between you and the biological father and to find every possible way you can to support a relationship between him and his children. By taking the high road of facilitation, you’ll find it easier to overcome feelings of resentment both on the part of the biological father and the children he no longer has daily access to. Most importantly, don’t let jealousy or envy of the bond they share with their children or the working relationship and history with your current mate cause you to be less than supportive of that relationship.

#6. If you’re the step-parent in a truly blended family, where both you and your spouse have children being merged into a “yours, mine and ours” scenario, take great care not to be perceived as playing favorites through a double standard in which your children enjoy a better standard of treatment than your step-children. As time goes on and you share life experiences with your step-children, there will be a leveling of emotions toward all of the children. In the meantime, you should be hypersensitive to the need to deal with each in a like fashion. It can be very helpful in the early stages to actually quantify and balance the time, activities and money spent on biological and non-biological children.

#7. Finally, according to Dr. Phil, if you as a biological parent are having frustrations with the step-parent and what they’re doing in relation to your children, it is encouraged at a very early point to stop complaining and start specifically asking for what you want and need.

Sources:

1 Pew Research Center, Social & Demographic Trends, Dec. 2015.

2 Dr. Phil, What Role Should Stepparent Play?, Nov. 2015

Next Week: Communication

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