There are many challenges blended families may encounter. Challenges such as cultural differences, personal value differences, life experiences, and more. What I have noticed in my therapeutic practice is that most blended families are in conflict due to the lack of knowledge of the impact the above differences have on the wellbeing of their family’s success.
I’ve had a firsthand encounter not only from the perspective of a mental health professional but from the personal experience of blending with my family. My husband and I are a newly married couple who both have children from a previous marriage (his adult children and my teenagers). My husband and I, who were single for over 10 years, now encounter me and my two teenage girls. He only has experience parenting male children prior to our marriage. My husband’s style of parenting is new to my daughters, which caused them to be resilient. My daughters were accustomed to being parented by me and rejected any subjective parenting by my husband. However, my blended family had to adjust to challenges which changed the dynamics within our home. The shift from sole parenting to dual parenting and decision-making changed the tone within our home. My husband exhibits a direct and structured approach to parenting versus my open and suggestive approach, which allows options to incur instead of conclusive decisions being followed.
In sharing my current style of parenting in association with my husband’s, it allows a hybreath injunction of supervision which can help our children with everyday encounters they may endure. Amendments that helped my family overcome difficulty in transition entailed:
Prayer for direction.
Unconditional Love and Understanding.
Communication at all times; expressing one's thoughts and feelings.
Respect goes a long way and is a must and is given by everyone in our home.
Appreciation; counting our blessings
Boundaries, understanding of one another space.
Blended families can be challenging, but good planning will evolve true understanding. As I mentioned above; unconditional love, coupled with respect and communication will develop appreciation within a blended family and help them thrive without fail.
Some challenges that research shows may occur within blended families are the following.
A lack of communication being established, or responsibilities assigned within the blended family can cause confusion, frustration, and unhappiness.
When blending two separate families, anxiety and concerns from both sides may be expressed.
Open conflict between siblings who are from different parents may emerge and contribute towards defying the stepparent.
Anger and frustration suppressed in a child may cause interpersonal conflict.
In efforts to ensure blended families survive the trial and tribulations of all the differences, the Structural family approach can be beneficial. Its emphasis is on a whole-family base, rather than trying to figure out each individual's issues first, then moving forward with group therapy. In SFT, therapists work to uncover any habitual patterns, routines, or behaviors that may negatively impact family dynamics. They may seek to establish healthier routines within family structures in order to create a dynamic, loving, stable home life for everyone.
Author: Charmaine Fobbs, LMSW, Clinical Social Work Intern
Monroe, J. (2020, June 05). Family systems approach: Glossary. Retrieved March 10, 2021, from https://www.newportacademy.com/resources/glossary/family-systems-approach/