Blended Families, Do They Work?

Women UK look at the topic of Blended Families, with a now ever increasing  number of blended families, second time marriages, siblings, step- children, step mother and step fathers, half brothers and sisters, lets face it, we are looking at blended blended blended!

But the truth here is that it is often messy with torn loyalties, complicated relationships, disagreeing parenting techniques and a level of competitiveness. Most children are not there by any choice they made and feel torn from one parent to another while at the same time having to learn to forge a relationship with a new ‘parent’

Adults in this situation are often expected to parent a ‘step child’ that they have not seen grow from the beginning and may have a less than warmed response for their efforts. The child or children will not be with the missing parent and as the adult fills these shoes, conflict can happen! For the child, this can be a loyalty minefield as it is a total reminder to the child his or her parents are not together. With any adult comes a life learned of habits, traditions and nuances that are unfamiliar to the child. Loving the step parent brings loyalty questions to one parent, hating them brings loyalty questions to the other parent so a no -win situation can ensue for the child.

And what about the extended family? This can often produce a whole new plethora of complications especially when it comes to family affairs and exes. Think about extra sets of grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins for the children, a whole new extended family with all it’s complications for family get togethers.

So is it all doom and gloom? No of course not and the question needs to be answered that a lot of ‘regular’ families are messy and dysfunctional so labelling a blended family as such is one sided….. With a mix of personalities can also often bring new opportunities, extra love and support and new beginnings.

At the end of the day, blended families are here to stay and are on the increase so what can we do to make a blended family work? Respect, understanding and flexibility are the name of the game and throw in a pinch of patience and we are off to a good start. But are these not the qualities needed for any relationship to grow?

There is so much information, help and support on family matters for ‘first’ families but very little resources for blended families so it is often a case of working through. As we get used to ‘step’ and ‘half’ ‘second time round’ or ‘his children’ or ‘her children’ we never know how our own family may be blended later through our own relationships or those close to us.

One thing for sure, as you blend children, parents, grandparents and siblings, life will get noisier, busier and hopefully blended with a whole lot more love!

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