Nearly one out of every two marriages in the United States ends in divorce. Often, remarriage after divorce occurs and if one or both parties have children, a new family unit, a blended family, is created.
Blended families are the fastest growing demographic group in the U.S. The Blended family statistics are eye-opening. Washington University estimates half a million adults become step parents each year. The 2000 Census Bureau statistics show 10.6 million children living in blended families. Nearly half of these children live with one step-parent and one biological parent.
Some Difficulties of Blended Family Life
Often, when new families are formed there are difficulties faced as the new family members adjust to changes. Blended family conflicts are common but becoming a blended family doesn’t always have to be a problem. When all parties involved understand the challenges of combining households, it’s easier to discuss the issues and solve any problems before they occur.
Some of the most common blended family issues include: unrealistic expectations of how the new family unit will operate; loyalty conflicts in children who can fear that if they like their step parent, their natural parent will be upset and; difficulty adapting to the new family environment.
Solutions to Conflict in Blended Families
* One of the best ways to ensure a smoother transition for a blended family is for the members to form a solid bond with one another. The couple needs to have a strong bond in order to reduce the chances of unhappy children causing division in the relationship. Showing a united front also helps the transition for children who can otherwise be skeptical of the new family unit.
* Step parent and child should spend private time with one another. Doing activities together allows them to get to know each other better and also allows them to learn one another’s expectations.
* Decide on the household rules together. Doing so allows everyone to be a part of the decision making process.
* Make family goals together. Set them and track them and ensure that everyone has a role to play.
* Weekly family meetings also help a blended family to be more successful. Giving everyone the chance to air their feelings on a regular basis ensures that the lines of communication remain open for any grievances or questions that family members may have. Just make sure you listen to what is said.
* Make a point of going on outings together as a family. Even if your ‘outing’ is a joint cooking experience in the kitchen, make sure you do things together.
* Make sure that everyone has their own tasks and responsibilities in the running of the family. This way everyone can see that they are an important and necessary part of the whole.
Include the Blended Family in the Wedding Ceremony
The steps to building a flourishing blended family don’t have to wait until after the wedding ceremony. Including all the new family members in the ceremony not only makes them a key part of such an important day but it also shows everyone that the vows being made are not only between the bride and groom but for the entire family unit.
A unity family ceremony doesn’t have to be difficult to pull off. In fact, a unity family ceremony can be easily incorporated into a traditional wedding ceremony. In addition to the regular wedding vows between the couple, simply add a blended family vow into the rites. If you wish to take the unity family ceremony one step farther, a unity candle can be lit or a unity sand ceremony can be performed.
A unity sand ceremony not only includes the children involved in a blended family but it also unifies the entire family unit in a unique ceremony. The blending of the different colors of sand represents the blending of the new family.
No matter which route the blended family decides to take to strengthen its bonds of love, it’s important to remember that a healthy family unit begins with a healthy attitude and an environment of inclusiveness.
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