Many adults are getting married with children already in the wings. The result - blended families - can be greatly rewarding, although not without conflict. This article highlights some areas of concern for blended families and how to deal with them.
It is not uncommon these days for couples to pursue remarriage with children already in tow. Blended family statistics show that at least one in three Americans is now a stepchild, stepparent, a stepsibling, or some part of a blended family.
Blended families are usually the result of remarriage after divorce, where both bride and groom have kids under their wings. Or perhaps it's a first time wedding for two single parents. Whatever the reason, families that are united by virtue of marriage and not blood are on the rise, bringing hope and stability to many people's lives.
Blended Family Remarriage Conflicts
It's not much of a surprise, however, that kids who suddenly have to deal with a "stepmother" or "stepfather" tend to shy away, become closed off, or openly rebel towards change. It's a normal blended family issue that can be dealt with successfully; one must be prepared for resistance though.
Another blended family problem that often crops up is experienced by adults who can't deal with children that are not their own. This usually stems from the idea that because a child is not one's own flesh and blood, one has no real right to get involved in that child's life. Like every other blended family conflict, it can be dealt with positively and effectively.
If you are part of a stepfamily, you're probably familiar with these and other situations. The good news is, these are all perfectly normal and each situation can be resolved given sufficient time, love, and understanding.
The following are some common stepfamily conflicts and how you can handle them positively, solidifying your family's unity and strength.
The Blended Family - Start Off With A Statement
It's a good idea to make a commitment from the very beginning of your relationship. Couples have found that engaging in a unity family ceremony during the wedding is a great way to encourage family members to accept and love each other.
Basically, a unity family ceremony is when the bride, groom, and children all take turns pouring different colored sand into a glass jar or vase, creating a unique symbol of their unity. Families can also recite a blended family vow for the wedding to verbally signify their commitment to unity and harmony. It's a great step towards getting along with each other and is very conducive to the growth of familial relationships.
The Blended Family - Decide On Where to Live
A big factor in establishing harmony in a family is your place of residence after getting married. Obviously, there's no place like home and some children resent the idea of having to move into a step-siblings house (while the original resident stepsibling doesn't have to endure the same sacrifice). A new home for everyone means the entire family has to start over and everyone is equal. It can be refreshing and exciting to move into a new home together.
The Blended Family - Face and Bury Old Conflicts
If a family is formed after a remarriage, children and parents are liable to carry over hurts and resentments from the previous marriage that can affect the harmony of the new family. For example, anger towards ex-husbands or wives, disappointment in children that their biological parents won't ever work things out - these things can be deeply painful to deal with.
It's best to handle these issues in a loving, non-judgmental manner, with everyone agreeing to support each other until the emotional wounds have healed. Constant verbal support and affirmation, hugs and kisses, and other forms of affection can all have massive impact on individual feelings.
Being negative and standoffish will only perpetuate ill-feelings and disharmony. Start your remarriage by being positive and strong for others in all situations.
How to Build Blended Family Relationships
The overall secret to building a strong blended family is to pay attention to the feelings of everyone involved and to build good faith between each other as a result.
Regarding the issue of discipline: a parent can start exerting authority and instating rules once he or she has earned the trust of the children. You can do this by listening, empathizing, and taking a genuine liking to a child's interests. Once you have proved you are for real and you truly care, they will trust you even when you discipline. It's all about building caring relationships above anything else.
We wish all parents and children good luck as you strive to build a strong blended family. To quote the Beatles, "All you need is love." That, in a nutshell, is what makes both natural and blended families work out.
Written by: Sharon Vaz - founder of http://www.unitysandceremony.net, an authority website dedicated to providing brides resources on planning an spectacular Unity Sand Ceremony.