How a Blended Family Affects the Kids
Blended families – or families that contain children from a previous relationship of at least one of the partners – are becoming increasingly common. According to the Pew Research Center in 2015, about 16 percent of children in the United States are now living in blended families.
A blended family creates a set of challenges that are not often seen in traditional families. Particularly, blended families can create challenges for the kids involved. When you create a family that is a blend of different families, it is only natural that a child may have a difficult time adjusting as they gain new stepsiblings and new stepparents.
One challenge is that a child may see their new stepsiblings as rivals. Children see that their parent now has to devote part of their attention to the new stepsiblings – attention that was previously devoted just to them – and they become jealous and resentful. This is why it is important, as a parent in a blended family, to carve out time to spend solely with your biological children. It helps them to remember that they are still special.
Children also may have a hard time accepting or connecting with their new stepparent. This is normal, and it is best to just give them time. Experts say that it takes two to five years before a blended family is truly functional. Remember that the children did not choose to become a part of a blended family; the parents made that choice. Give them time to adjust to the dynamics of the new family.
When it comes to stepparents, children also may find it difficult to accept discipline from their new stepparent. In reality, in the early days of a blended family, it should fall to the biological parent to be chief disciplinarian of their children with the stepparent helping out. As time goes on, it should be easier for the children to accept discipline from the stepparent.
Blended families come with their own unique challenges, and the kids in them are often the ones who have the most difficult time. But, with time and patience, a blended family can come together and be just as loving as a traditional family.