There are 1,300 new blended families formed every single day in the United States, however 60 to 70 percent of blended families end in divorce. The top two reasons for the high rate of divorce in blended families is financial issues and disagreements about raising the children. There are other reasons why blended families divorce such as incompatibility, stress, problems with the non-custodial biological parent, etc.
Blended family living is not for the faint of heart. It can be complex, as members attempt to find and fill a role in the new family. On average, it takes about 5 years for a blended family to operate on a similar level as a biological family. Blending a family is not something that should be done on a whim. It is not the next logical step after a whirlwind romance with a person who is parenting a child alone. There is a lot to consider before moving in or marrying into a blended family.
Your financial state. Some single parents struggle financially. The prospective promise of financial subsidy or security through a live-in relationship/marriage may cause them to rush into the relationship. Many people make child support and/or alimony payments to an ex spouse. Some (males and females) may owe back child support payments. There could be debt owed from the previous relationship. You may even have your own financial conundrum to work through. Although it may not be possible to fix everything in your financial past immediately - it is possible to be honest with your soon to be spouse/mate when you reach the stage in your relationship where you are considering sharing a residence. Marriage is an emotional, spiritual and financial investment; one of which it is the duty of it's investors to set themselves up for a great return.
Housing arrangements. Should you decide to move in together -or to get married- where will you live? Will the blended family move to your home or your mates home? How does this affect the schooling arrangements for all children involved? If you have two girls and one boy, where will the boy sleep? All of these things, and more, should be considered when attempting to move the blended family under one roof.
Health of the child(ren). Each parent, whether they are the custodial parent with whom the child lives most of the time, or they are the non-custodial parent with whom the child lives on weekends or in the summer; should have insurance cards, medication and primary physician information within their grasp. Although there are exceptions, stepparents usually have limited access to medical information and in most cases cannot give consent for medical treatment unless there is a signed notarized document or a power of attorney signed by the child's biological parents. If a child has a chronic illness, the soon to be stepparent as well as the biological parent should also make sure that they each know how to care for the child. Soon to be stepparents should honestly consider whether they have the fortitude and ability to, not only mentally care for a sick child, but to also support the child's parent whom they are in a relationship with. Try not to wait until you are already in over your head - living together- to decide that you cannot handle things. Think about these things ahead of time.
Compatibility of the soon to be step-parent and child. Does the child get along with the soon to be stepparent? Does the child seem to enjoy this person or does the child shy away or disappear when the soon to be stepparent arrives for a visit? Some children may struggle with biological parent alliances. This may cause them to be more cautious when it comes to building relationships with a potential stepparent. However, if a potential stepparent is easy going and allows the child to open up at their own pace, the actual compatibility of the potential stepparent and child can be discovered. Rushing the child to "like" the potential stepparent can only lead to negative results.
Parenting styles. One of the major reasons for divorce in a blended family is differences in parenting styles. Generally, when a person does not know what to do in a parenting situation, they fall back on what their parents did to them in a similar situation. Understanding how parenting styles are shaped by an individual's experience is important. Understanding what your mates experience was during his/her childhood is more important. Knowing how they parent (or expect to parent) and what they consider to be discipline and what they consider to be an offense worthy of discipline, is best.
Relationship with previous spouse/ex (your child's biological parent). Some people are blessed to have a workable relationship with their ex, others do not. It is important to find out which one you will be marrying/moving into. While the conditions may not be "ideal", they must be "workable." If they aren't "workable", and you cannot deal with it, perhaps you should postpone blending your family under one roof until they are or make a plan with you mate to deal with this situation while you live together.
Support system. Many biological families have built in babysitters in the children's biological grandparents, aunts and uncles. These same people may not be as comfortable babysitting your stepchild. Your stepchild may also be uncomfortable with the idea of "Step-Aunt Jane" babysitting them while you and their parent go out for date nights. For this reason it is important to build a support system out of friends and people you trust. It is also important to have a support system for you and your spouse as you navigate the in's and out's of your blended family relationship. Join a blended family support group, get counseling, get involved in a religious or community activity group.
Keeping your relationship with your new spouse alive. Make time for romance with each other, even if you have to schedule it with your spouse. Have a plan on how you are going to keep your relationship alive before you get married or move in together. If you wait until you are actually living in the home, and your family is already blended, you can become overwhelmed by the day to day activities and lose "the spark." When you are in the home together, little things - such as an impromptu make out session while the child is out of the room- can keep things hot between the two of you.
Relationships with extended family members. Some people know, when going into the relationship, that their soon to be spouses family does not approve of them due to the fact that the family liked the previous spouse/mate better. Those family members should be addressed honestly and openly. Try your best to help them understand that their behavior (and inability to let go of your past relationship) is damaging the new one. Remind them that they should show respect to your new mate. Inform them that deliberately trying to make your new mate uncomfortable is unacceptable behavior. In severe cases, some have even stopped attending family events until their extended family members agreed to be respectful to the new mate and the stepchildren. If your mate is not willing to stand up to a disrespectful family member who seems to be intent on mistreating you, depending on the severity of the mistreatment and your personal tolerance, it may be time to rethink moving in together - and in some cases- marriage.
The purpose of this article is to give Blended Family Moments readers, who are considering blending their families, something tangible to think about so that the decision to blend is not just an emotional one, but also a logical one. It is also written so that no person will make a decision to blend prematurely. It is, in no way, meant to be taken as medical and/or psychological advice. This article is a general article, and therefore does not list all of the things that one should consider when blending their family. Individuals who need specific advice should seek the help of a counselor or trusted religious leader in their area.
Posted by Meka Butler, DD taken from Blended Family Moments
Whatever type of family you are in Gregory A. Riebesehl of Riebesehl Family Law Offices is always here to help you with whatever family matters you may have. Just call 6026210779 for your free initial consultation today.