Blending families is HARD! Blending families usually leaves some in the family without a voice (most often it’s the children). Children want to share their “truth” about blended families.
A “blended family” is rarely, if ever, an attractive alternative for a child of divorce. To a child, a “blended family” means having to share their parent, their relatives (aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc.), their home, their stuff, and their holidays. They could possibly even be faced with moving, changing schools, leaving friends and family, and losing their sense of security. “Everything I knew has changed!”
When parents remarry, I “get” a step-parent, step-siblings, and step-grandparents. And as much as the adults want to think they aren’t showing favoritism between “yours”, “mine”, or “ours”, they usually are … it’s only natural. This often leads to disagreements between the parents (now new spouses) and that can lead to tension in the new blended family. Parents at times think they need to defend their own children and they can get defensive with their spouse which creates arguments and hurt feelings.
Then there are things to navigate such as visitation schedules, irregular routines, and differences in parenting and expectations. Are the rules the same for “his” children AND “her” children? Or, are there distinctions? Does the child go from being an only child to now having step-siblings and having to adjust to an entirely different environment?
It is not suggested that adults need to cater to the child; but instead, take the following considerations and be patient with your child.
Things Your Child Wish You Knew
• Just because I like ____________ (fill in the blank: tennis coach, soccer coach, teacher, best friend’s dad, etc.) does NOT mean I want you to date (or marry) him/her. I will also probably not be alright with him/her as my step-parent. It’s just “weird” and now it makes me feel awkward.
• Please, please give me time before you get into a new marriage. You may be “over” my other parent (and your marriage) and ready to move on, but it takes me a lot longer. When you get seriously involved with someone (married) within 2 years of the divorce, I feel like nobody cares about me.
• Blending a family usually means shuffling bedrooms to accommodate the new family. So now I HAVE to adjust to a new step-parent AND might have to share a bedroom with a step-brother or step-sister that I barely know.
• I feel that I lost my mom or dad. Now, their time is focused on their new spouse and if they have children, our parent is trying to make sure everyone feels included but that makes me feel much less important to you.
• I am told that both homes are “my” homes; but, the reality is I am just visiting at the non-custodial parent’s house and I really don’t have my own room or things. When I come back for the next visit, I often find that my stuff has been used, moved, broken, or is missing.
• I really don’t want to hurt your feelings … so I will probably not say how I really feel or what I really think. I don’t want you to think I am being manipulative. I just want my family back or at the very least, I want to know that you’ll be there … no matter what. That security is what has been shaken through the divorce and it takes time to rebuild.
• I want you to be happy … I really do! I want to be happy too! I don’t know how to do that so I need you to commit to rebuilding the security and stability I lost through the divorce.
• Please be patient with me. I may need additional quality time, reassurances, unconditional love, validation, and most importantly, YOU!