Blending: Is there a right way?
Studies show that blended families move through a number of stages over several years (see Step Family Life page 55 for more details). During these stages, negotiations are made regarding the ‘how’, ‘when’ and ‘why’ of daily routines and family traditions. A process is formed to resolve issues and a sense of unity within the new family is built.
By the final stage a stepparent no longer feels like the ‘outsider’. They have a clear role and purpose within their family and comfortable step relationships are evident.
Does this mean there is one right way to blended family success?
Stepparent may play a more or less active role in discipline depending on the willingness of both their partner and stepchildren. The level of bonding between stepparents and children may also vary. The common factor is a strong couple relationship in which both partners feels their needs are catered for and a system is in place for negotiating the way forward.
The thing is, it takes time for each person to adjust to their new role within your family. The stages show us that blended family dynamics do change over time. With patience, persistence and some proven strategies to assist, family members will form a way of relating to each other that helps each person feel accepted, supported and a sense of belonging.
Keys to blending successfully…
- Couples who share their feelings without blaming and explore possible solutions that cater for a variety of needs, will mostly like work through the stages of blending at a faster pace.
- Don’t set rules and systems in concrete but evaluate them to determine their effectiveness. If one approach doesn’t work, it’s not the end of the world (or the stepfamily), together explore another way forward.
- Develop effective conflict resolving skills (see Session 2 of the Blending Lives Program), these will directly affect your success over time.
Unfortunately many couples give up before ever experiencing unity.
If you’re experiencing a lot of conflict, it doesn’t need to be this way forever. Recognise conflict is a normal part of the process and use the skills and strategies in the Blending Lives Program to make your journey smoother. If you don’t have a copy of the Blending Lives Program yet, please click here
Blended Family Advisor