Help with ‘Blended Families’

The Blended Family

“Blended Family” I love that phrase and the concept behind it. I am not sure where the phrase “step family” comes from but blended certainly sounds a whole lot better.

This week on the podcast Ed and I have been talking about what to do when we inherit an extended family. We live in a world where couples no longer stay together as they once did. There has been a drop in the divorce rate of 50% from a few years ago to the latest figure from the office of national statistics of 42%. We probably all know someone who is divorced, living as a single parent, or are part of a blended family.

The issue that was raised by the listener who requested this podcast was about having step children some of whom got on with her very well and one who was positively negative and ‘hated’ her. Sometimes these situations are based in “I love him but not his kids”.

Being a step parent is not an easy job. The best blended family’s work when the old family and the new family all talk together in a civil manner. This will always be dependent on the nature of the split and who blames who for what, who has been able to forgive whom for whatever went on.

The wicked step mother, in all fairy stories is a popular myth. Many step mothers do their very best to accommodate and care for the step children while they are in loco parentis. The problem can be when the other parent is using the child to wage a war on their ex’s new partner. This phenomenon called conflict by proxy and can be very destructive for all involved.

There is also an issue of ethos. The ethos of the two homes may vary greatly so that the children have problems adapting to the different regime when visiting the step home. Perhaps in their main home there are few boundaries and the children do what they want, go to bed when they want and so on. In the step family there are boundaries and routine. This can create conflict.

Often there is limited time with the kids. Access arrangements in Britain are usually every other weekend and a visit during the week if geography allows. So the impact that the step home can have on the child’s life will be limited.

Many young and adult step children will feel that in liking a step mother or father that they are betraying their mother or father. They may also feel possessive to their parent wanting to reject the new partner.

Are there answers? Well the net is full of ideas and blogs, sites and apps many of which are helpful. Most times it comes down to communication and when communication is impossible you need to refer to the Live In the present book chapter on the law of allowing. You can’t push water up hill and you can’t make a guinea pig bark. There is a time when as a step parent, you would be best to step back and leave it to the natal parents to sort it out.

I guess that as the level of blended families grows we will get better at living with them.

Take care and be happy

Sean x

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