We know that divorce occurs in about half of marriages within the United States, and this probably comes as no surprise to you. Although this statistic is well known, there is another important factor of divorce that is less talked about.
How does divorce affect the families?
Many parents go on to marry a new partner, while some may never remarry. If the parent does decide to remarry, their family will become what is today referred to as a “blended family.” A blended family is when two people get married or cohabit who already have children from a previous marriage or relationship. You can imagine how two separate families coming together with separate rules, traditions and ideals may have a difficult transition period.
This difficult transition period comes with many changes for each member of the family involved. The child has to get used to a new parent as well as new brothers and/or sisters. The parent will also take on responsibilities that come with having additional children. Another obstacle for the step-parent is finding the balance of building a trusting relationship with the new step-child and remaining consistent in the child’s discipline routine. Conflict may arise between the two recently married parents when it comes to establishing rules, and discipline tactics with their children. Many parents assume that their children understand what is expected of them, but in reality the children would benefit from being explained exactly what the parents would like to see from them.
“Communication is key” can apply well to most of life situations, and this includes being a member of a blended family. The idea of communication is simple, but applying it to your life when it gets stressful can be tricky. It is important to practice healthy communication in our every day interactions, so that when problems do arise we can default to some form of beneficial communication.
When a child’s parents decide to get a divorce it can be a very traumatic and emotional experience for everyone involved. Some times children of divorce can be or can feel like they are left to fend for themselves. Custody battles can be filled with negative emotions, and sometimes it seems the parents get lost in their own issues. When they are lost in their own issues, the voices of their children can easily get lost in the shuffle, and their mental well being gets pushed to the side. Often the children remain in contact with both parents after the divorce, but sometimes they are not so lucky. Research has shown that the best way to keep a child well adjusted after a divorce or parental separation is establishing a healthy parent-child relationship.
It is important for parents going through through the transition of becoming a blended family to listen and understand the needs of their children. The children may worry that their relationship with their biological parent may change due to the other changes taking place around them. The children may also feel confused about the changing roles within their new family system. Again, this is where communication can really be the key to having a healthy family system.
It is important to be aware that every type of family has issues and room to grow, not just blended families. Each type of family system will have their own individual struggles, and will each require a unique way to become a healthy family. The most important thing to remember is that everyone involved within the transition is struggling in their own unique way, and the best way to get through these struggles is through communication.
Know that even with conscientious and caring people that this transition to finding a healthy identity as a blended family takes time. They say it take about two years of hard transition in and after a divorce and it is about the same two years of hard transition in developing a new family unit. Be patient. Seven years is considered an average amount of time for a blended family to feel fully transitioned and whole again. Know that the marital strength and unity are worth investing in and find ways of developing traditions that invest into your family and marriage on a regular basis.