Professor Betty Keel
15 September 2008
Navigating the Challenges of Blended Families Summary A blended family not only creates a larger family, it also creates much chaos. It oftentimes seems as if the workload almost doubles for single parents when they decide to combine families through marriage. Almost seventy-five percent of the 1.2 million Americans who divorce each year will eventually remarry. The stepfamily life is much more complicated than one would expect.
On average, it takes from two to five years for a stepfamily to establish itself. There are many obstacles to overcome when daddy’s girlfriend becomes step mom; a child who once thought of the nice woman as a playmate may have a hard time obeying her new disciplinary procedures. Many parents are hesitant to discipline their children after a divorce because parents feel as if their child is having a hard time adjusting and just needs a few days to become acclimated with the changes. It is suggested that the new spouses sit down ahead of time and “hash” out child rearing and discipline expectations. Discipline is actually one of the main causes of tension in a blended family. Kids become confused and insecure when there is no parental consistency. Young children develop trust when they experience fair, effective discipline. Parents should also develop a list of values they both want to teach. Next, they should sketch a list of household rules. It can be particularly difficult for a new stepparent to lay down the law. It is advised that the biological parents take responsibility for enforcing the rules, while the stepparent acts as deputy.
Nurture is a key component to a successful blended family. Parents must not only nurture their children, but they must also nurture the spousal relationship. Putting more energy into the couple may improve the relationship with all the children, who will begin to see the parents as a strong, cohesive unit,...