Having lived in a blended family and led workshops for parents living with other people’s children I’ve realized how difficult creating a new kind of family can be. Most of us do not recognize that a blended family is a different kind of family, It is not better, not worse, just different. It will never operate like a nuclear family. According to Linda Albert and Elizabeth Einstein in their publication “Strengthening Your Stepfamily” the differences are:
- Born of a loss – children lose control, contact and continuity; biological parent loses status and stability; stepparent loses the marriage dream and privacy.
- Non-residential parent is always psychologically present.
- Children move between two or more homes.
- Previous parent/child relationship based on years of memories and alliances build strong biological connections.
- Different family backgrounds can add to the confusion.
- Lack of a legal relationship means the stepparent has no legal rights.
Trying to make a blended family into a nuclear family will only lead to crisis. A large percentage of these families fail.
The key to blending a family is to keep the couple relationship strong, understand the process, allow it time to evolve, respect all members and most of all communicate effectively. A healthy blended family is a wonderful gift to our children.