Character building is a process that begins with early childhood and is nurtured with the interactions with individuals as you meet. A healthy family life contributes a lot to shaping your personality. Broken families may lead to a broken individual inside you and you grow up harbouring negative feelings within you and channelling the negative energy into making life’s decisions.

Those who seek refuge in opting for a stepfamily or a blended family environment further face a continuum of challenges every passing day. The complexity in confusing and undefined roles in the new setup proves to be a menace for both the blended families and the step-kids alike. This also contributes to divorce rates for remarried couples being higher than for first-time marriages.

When a stepfamily is established, couples usually lack foresight for the future of the new relationships. The members not only lack a shared family history but also harbour different beliefs and opinions about life that may challenge those integrated in the fabric of the ex-family setup. Children can be victims as they nurture feeling of being torn between two households. Newly married couples in such families hardly get to live the honeymoon period and they have adjustment issues especially for the first two years. The various challenges faced by blended families have been highlighted in the following discussion:

Impatience: Couples rush into new relationships expecting life to improve within lightening seconds. But little do they realise that emotional stability is a process untaken in several baby steps. There are a multitude of changes to be made and individuals have to constantly resist the impulse of hastening the proceedings. Steady doses of empathy and understanding while seeking long-term solutions instead of immediate ones is the way to develop healthy relations.

Maintaining boundaries: One of the commonest mistakes committed by parents is extra sensitivity over disciplining or being defensive about any limit-setting on behalf of the non-biological parent. In a step family setup both adults should be equally in charge of setting up ground rules for the household. The partnership should effectively communicate openly over their opinions over parenting. The ability to negotiate calmly can make a huge difference. Failing success at this should prompt them to designate one parent with the disciplinary role to avoid conflicts.

Lack of foresight for a healthy family setup: The young lovers blinded by love seem to ignore the common sense required to foresee the complications that the new family will encounter. They tend to avoid confrontation over the roles they will adopt in the new setting as their judgement is clouded by the new love. This leads to confusion at the commencement of their marriage. Most couples remarry harbouring the fantasy that happiness will be served in a golden platter, however, the challenges can bring out the worst, even in good caring people. This is why conversations about potential problems about combining families should happen prior to a commitment.

Ex-spouses sabotaging new relationships: Another difficult challenge faced by such families is the presence of an ex-spouse who is also a biological parent. The might want to dictate the upbringing of their children or demand undivided love from their kids. Sometimes step-kids are very attached to the ex-spouses and might begin to suffer from separation anxiety. Feelings of jealousy might also emerge in the new partner over interactions with an ex.

Empathy and understanding are the two tools to counteract this problem. Couples should understand that their new family is in transition and healing can only be accomplished with stable love and support. Some rules implemented on behalf of the legal custodian over the relationship between the child and ex-spouse can help improve these situations.

Step-children: Experts have calculated that it takes an average of seven years for the kids to adjust to the new family. While dealing with the transitions of divorce and the new marriage, some children might harbour feeling of low self-esteem and confidence.

Children need time to adjust to the new rules and living situations and adolescents tend to rebel to the new rules implemented. Indulge in careful considering of their complaints and probing through their issues when dealing with step-children. Even if you disagree with their opinions it is always comforting to share and vent to a listening ear.

If your spouse has children from the previous marriage as well, then it is essential that you do not push the relations between the step-siblings. Let things take a natural course and allow time be the healer.

In a blended family setting, sacrifices come as a natural parcel with the package. But a stepfamily can survive the hurdles if they make an effort to acknowledge their individual losses and work on fostering the new-founded relationships.

Blending families is not a day’s job. It requires years of effort, communication and courage.  But with the right amount of time to work and the persistence on developing their unique traditions and interactions, stepfamilies can eventually develop lasting and emotionally rich relationships.

If your stepfamily or step-kids need the help of professional counsellors or family therapists, Australia Counselling can link you with registered counsellors in your local area. Visit our family issues page to search for a family therapist, counsellor or psychologist in your local area.

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