Blended families, also known as step-families, are created when a couple comes together with existing children from one or both of their previous relationships. As nearly half of marriages in the United States end in divorce and at least half of children in the United States live with a biological parent and a step-parent, it is easy to see that blended families are becoming more the “norm” than the exception.
As you can image, the blending of two families can be intense and complicated; especially when teenagers are involved. Teens may:
- resist differing parenting styles
- feel as though they are too old to treat an outsider as a parent
- be uncertain about how their relationship with their natural parents may change
- be unsure of a new house, school, or environment
- begrudge any change in their routine
- resent sharing space and attention with new siblings, especially young ones
That said, the idea of happily blended families do not have to be an impossible dream. No matter the obstacles, with patience, open communication, respect, patience, love, humor, and, yes, patience, blended families can develop a close bond between new step-parents and step-siblings (did I mention that patience is vital with almost all interactions with your teen).
As you are looking at creating and embracing a blended family, remember that it will not be an exact replica of what you may have had before; nor should it even try to be. Embrace the differences and keep these goals in mind:
Adults, teens, and children alike should respect each other. Every individual is a vital element to this blended family and should be given equal courtesy and respect. A family is not a family without all of its members.
A blended family is made up of different ages, backgrounds, goals, maturity; remember to be civil to each other no matter the frustration. By keeping communication open and truly listening to each other, then you can bridge differences and strengthen the family bond.
As the members of the blended family continue to grow, the needs will change. Teens are preparing to embark on their own journeys and need to know that their family, the entire blended family, will grow with them. Treat each stage with respect and civility, change goals based on needs and age, and communicate with each other. These efforts should help the family bond into a strong and uplifting blended family.
Remember, that this blended family was brought together when a couple fell in love and that, no matter the challenges, the family as a whole can grow into a loving and supportive unit. It may not look like every other family out there; but, truly, what family isn’t unique. If you have any questions or discover any struggles along the way, then we can help.
Miguel Brown is here to help your teenager find their place in your blended family. To learn more about Family Conflict issues and how blended families can create stronger bonds, you can Schedule an Appointment online or Give Us a Call at 786-383-0353.