Be a Successful Blended Family
The divorce rate for the second marriage is higher than the first, and the number one cause is the children. Would you like some important insights and solutions that will help you be a successful blended family? The following case studies and guidelines can help you to prevent and heal problems with your family.
“I am a package deal,” Hannah told her boyfriend. The working mother had two daughters, when she married her second husband, Randy, who had never been married. Beth was 15 years old and Sondra was 12. Hannah wisely told Randy that in order to be successful it would be helpful for him to be their friends, be patient, and not to try to parent them. She also advised him to avoid commenting on her parenting words and actions with the girls until they were alone. Finally, Hannah emphasized, “Please do not take their rejection personally. They would react the same way with anyone.” Randy was grateful for the guidance and acted accordingly.
Typical of teen-agers, at first Beth wanted nothing to do with Randy. Sondra was more open but guarded. However, when the girls asked their mother to help them with their homework, she referred them to Randy who was glad to be of assistance. He was also happy to help out by driving Beth and Sondra places and being there when they needed him. Randy loved to have fun and played with the girls. Needless to say, they all bonded nicely. They were a successful blended family.
Another important ingredient was that Randy and Hannah kept their relationship healthy and alive by spending quality time together and getting away regularly, even if it was for one night. They communicated and solved their problems with win-win solutions. This is crucial because the children often reflect the pain of the couple.
The situation of blended families can become more complicated when both adults have children. It is very important not to favor any child over another, no matter what the circumstances. If we treat everyone like we want to be treated, with love, respect, and appreciation, we will always succeed.
In cases where there are children on both sides, it is important to honor how the children feel about each other. For example, Lucy’s son, Jack, was 9 years old, and her second husband’s son, Sam, was 11. Lucy noticed that her son was unhappy when Sam came to the house for his weekend visits. When she questioned Jack, she found out that Sam was being verbally and physically abusive to him. I encouraged Lucy to teach Jack how to protect himself, as that is an important tool for life. I also advised her to talk to her husband, Sidney. It was important to protect Jack from Sam’s destructive behavior, which probably was a result of his anger at his Mom and Dad for divorcing and jealousy that Jack lived with his Dad.
At the next counseling session Lucy came with Sidney, and I helped him realize that he felt guilty for leaving his wife and son (a common feeling) and hesitated to discipline Sam with logical consequences. (I never recommend verbal or physical punishment.) I pointed out how this was a problem for everyone. It was important for his son to learn how to constructively deal with his feelings. This was imperative for him to succeed in his life. I also suggested that Sam take his son out for the day and spend fun time with him. Until Jack felt safe with Sam, the boys were not to be left alone. Everyone deserves to feel safe, especially in his or her home.
The most potentially difficult situation can arise when the children of both parents all live together. This takes awareness of what is going on, and for the natural parents to take full responsibility for their own children’s problems. Making excuses for them or being in denial can lead to disaster. There are many books, organizations, and professionals that can assist the family. It takes time, love, constructive communication, and win-win problem solving. Regular family meetings are helpful to all. Each person is honored and has the opportunity to speak, and everyone is involved in the decision making as much as possible.
If there are too many problems with the children, it might be wise for each family to live close by and not mingle the children until they adjust to the new situation. It is inappropriate to expect either the stepmother or stepfather to try to fix each other’s problems with their children. It is also not appropriate to expect them to put up with, or be a target of their abuse.
Finally, it is crucial for the couple to have a healthy, loving relationship with each other and themselves, which includes high self-esteem, balancing their lives, and good communication and problem solving skills. The couple is the foundation and model for all families. You can be a successful blended family!
Helene Rothschild Copyright 2007 by Helene Rothschild, MS, MA, MFT, a Marriage, Family Therapist, intuitive counselor, speaker, and author. Her newest book is, “ALL YOU NEED IS HART! Create Love, Joy and Abundance~NOW.” A Unique Guide to Holistic And Rapid Transformation. Free newsletter, “Healing Your Body” Tele-class MP3 audio, and “How are you doing?” e-book. Special generous offer on November 14, 2007! http://www.lovetopeace.com , 1-888-639-6390.