By Valeria Vilar, MA, BEd, LMHC
Family is the basis of society, the space where the personality of each member starts building up, the pillar on which the psychological, social and physical development of humans is determined. Ideally, it gives each of its members a sense of emotional stability and safety.
Nowadays, there are different family structures, and the traditional family —mother, father and children— is now just one of the many possibilities. The concept of family now includes blended families as well.
Blended families, that is, those that come together through a second marriage merging the children of both spouses, face different challenges than the traditional biological family.
- As professionals, in the last years we have seen a variety of blended family families.
- The most frequent concerns these families face are:
- Arguments regarding the different criteria for raising children. Between “my natural children and yours”.
Women sometimes worry that their new partner may be sexually attracted to their teenage daughter.
Competition and rivalry among siblings.
Parents feel jealous of their stepchildren’s social and personal growth and development, for example, if they are accepted at a better college, or if they have better grades than their biological children.
Even though each family has its own peculiarities, some recommendations apply to most of them:
Refrain from criticizing your ex-spouse when your children are around. This will upset your children, and will adversely affect the process of adjusting to the new household.
It is important to understand that each child is unique, special and different. Therefore, they must be allowed to adjust at their own pace.
Limits are a sign of love and security, thus, they must be observed, but always accompanied by dialogue, consideration, love and respect.
- Remember that stepparents may help, but they do not replace biological parents.
- Allow space for disagreement.
- Listen before you speak. Negotiate, be flexible and learn to recognize when you need to give in.
- Show affection.
- Share individual time with each of the members of your family.
- Share group time with all the members of your family: parties, family outgoings, etc.
These new families, even with these difficulties, clearly deserve a new opportunity in their lives. Although new challenges arise, it is good to know that we can always find alternatives and solutions to our problems.
If there is love in the couple, loyalty, open communication and commitment, the new family will most likely make their dreams come true.