For the Unheard Voices in Blended Families

Blended families are somewhat of a new wave in society. It is said that nearly half of all marriages end in divorce and in today’s society it has become more of a tradition to have a divorce party than to mourn the actual divorce. The days of divorce being extremely frowned upon are long gone. Get ready to usher in a new wave of families, the ever-changing blended family.

For members of these blended families finding new comfortable places for everyone can be unnerving and even repulsive depending on who you are asking. If you surf the internet you can find websites filled with advice on parenting, co-parenting, and semi-parenting alike. The long running joke about stepmonsters and monster-in-laws gradually gets nods of approval from all of those who have been in those types of situations. Usually sites will try to offer the “new” parent some suggestions on how to handle the unruly stepchild/ren that are seemingly hell-bent on making this union no more. It is seldom that sites address what a stepchild is to do when on the receiving end of a not so welcoming step parent.

WebMD has put together a one size fits all list of what to expect when parenting stepchildren that pertains specifically to younger children. This list includes: coming up with a parenting plan between spouses, not coming on too strong, not overstepping your boundaries-basic cookie cutter tips. They’re plenty of cliché tips on how to smooth over the beginner years where ignorance is most likely bliss. After settling in to a secure position, this family dynamic is sure to morph to make room for jealously, silent grudges, and years of repressed feelings that have finally been cleared for take off.

In theses instances where a stepchild has wandered into undisclosed territory- what happens next determines where the battle lines are drawn. The complications between a freshly married parent and dealing with an unruly spouse can be confusing. What is most interesting is their are very limited tips available on how to handle a spouse that has less than savory views of your children and treats them as such. It is an aspect of blended families that researchers and psychologists have yet to really divulge any relevant information.

The initial reaction would be to separate the parties, making sure no further contact is had. But that doesn’t necessarily yield a long-term solution. Short term solutions such as separation can lead to resentment and either the child or spouse feeling neglected. The common denominator between both parties would have to set boundaries. Choosing sides is never a realistic option and to combat that, a side may not be chosen. The expectation in this tactic is hoping that time will smooth things over. However, human nature tells us that all the time in the world does not heal all wounds. Ideally, one side will cave or the combating parties reach a solution.

There is no website that has specific advice that will cover all of  your  bases. For adult step-children (which is the only time you are likely to address the dilemma head on) the rules are a little different from when you were still a minor. Although you are bound by the nature of the relationship of your parent it doesn’t mean you have to suffer in silence.

Considering these tactics on all sides can make a better conversation:

  1. Make sure your problem is rational. In these types of situations, it is easy to create a situation that doesn’t necessarily exist. Tensions run high among family and step-family members that doesn’t always come from a forward thinking place.
  2. Speak directly and honestly. When addressing an issue, the truth really does set you free.
  3. Address all members involved. The best way to express your feelings is to make sure everyone knows. If people are still in the dark about how you feel, no one will know how to handle it.
  4. Come to terms with the situation. Analyze whether or not the you have reached a place of no return (this may require pride swallowing).
  5. Move on. Know when to let it go. Reconcile or walk away.

Needless to say, at the end of the day nothing is cut and dry. Weighing your options is probably the best thing to do. A light bulb is going to go off one way or another. The major lesson to learn in the new mix of blended families is that life is too short, things don’t last, and fulfillment is something that everyone seeks. Finding where you fit into this lesson determines how successful or unsuccessful your relationships with those around you will be.