Blended Families

Blended or step-families have been around in the society since the olden days. Blended families refer to a family with one or both of the parents have been married before or one or both of the parents have lost a spouse through death or divorce with or without children from the previous marriage. The remarriage paves way to a new family which is the blended family. Blended families are prevalent in the contemporary society, as at least one third of the total population of children in the United States belongs to blended families. One of the reasons behind this is that divorce has become a norm in Americas marriage and relationship. Participants of divorce are usually under the age of 45, and 80 percent of the divorced men and 75 percent of the divorced women tend to remarry in the duration of three to four years. Moreover, the divorced adults with children tend to remarry faster than divorced adults with no children. As a result, many children live in blended family arrangement.

Children in blended families tend to face different problems in adapting to the new situation in their familial life. Hence, there is a need to address the issues faced by children in blended families. Statistics show that only 45 percent of children do well after the divorce and 25 percent of youths in divorced families experience social and emotional problems. Some of the problems that children in blended families experience are not knowing where they fit in, loss of interest in activities and schoolwork, development of deviant or aggressive behavior causing rebellion andor withdrawal, and seeking attention from their parents.

The family stress theory best explains the difficulties experienced by children in blended families. The concept of the theory explains that the state of family members are uncertain in their perception who is in and who is out of the family or who is supposed to perform certain tasks within the current family system. Remarriage is a significant stressor, especially to children, for it alters the familial boundaries.  Thus, it largely affects children who are immersed in the new family system.

The issue is prevalent in the society as the number of blended families continues to rise. There are many viable solutions to this dilemma. For one, biological and stepparents play an active role in helping the children bear and understand the situation. On one hand, parents should still love their children and be caring towards them even after the divorce. Parents should also guide their children in adapting to the new situation in order to prevent the undesirable consequences. On the other hand, the stepparents should be open and act as the new parent of the children of their partner without coercing the child.
Aside from the biological and stepparents, there are community organizations and non-government organizations that offer professional services to support relationships. They offer services like education and support programs in line with the step-parenting and childrearing. Parents may seek professional help when children are having emotional and social difficulties due to the new family system. There are professionals offering counseling and education programs that can be helpful in cases like this.

The government also has legislations that ensure the rights of the children in situations like this. The government agencies also formulate projects that are helpful in maintaining a good relationship in blended families. For example, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has Supporting Healthy Marriage in Step-Families project that aims to guide step-families, specifically those in low income households.

Due to the staggering statistics of divorce in the United States, many children are involved in blended families and experience a lot of problems and difficulties in adapting to the new situation. Thus, there is an urgent need to address the issue of children in blended families as they are the victims that are most likely to suffer in broken relationships. Parents should assess first the impact of divorce to the children before they make a firm decision in ending their relationship. Also, before entering another relationship, they should know well the other person and consult their children if they like him or her. In the end, their partner and their children will be together under one roof, so they might as well know if they will have a harmonious relationship that will be beneficial to the children.


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