Blended Family Relationships

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Today, in the United States, it is estimated that forty to fifty percent of married couples will file for a divorce (“Marriage and Divorce”). For every ten new marriages, four of those will involve a person who has previously been married to a different partner (Peralta). The image of a modern family has changed significantly, expanding to include same sex couples, adopted family members, and most commonly, step family members. But for these modern, blended families, is there a happily ever after and story book ending? With every new marriage, a blended family experiences many changes, a time of readjustment and a great deal of stress. All of these things wreak havoc on the new family’s sibling-sibling, parent-child, and even spousal relationships. …show more content…
This is due to their immaturity and lack of cognitive development. Remarriage can also affect a child’s sense of controllability and predictability, which according to psychologists is a leading factor in creating a perceptually stressful situation (Kutner). Due to a child’s immaturity, these times of readjustment can lead to many struggles and a great deal of tension, which affect parent-child relationships. These variants in the relationships between a step child and their new parent can range anywhere from slightly awkward to very hostile. Children’s feelings toward the new adult undergo a change after marriage; these adults evolve from a fun-loving friend to an imposing mother or father figure. According to Dr. Wednesday Martin, the image of a “wicked step parent” is a stereotype that is centuries old and does little to help a struggling family dynamic. Step mothers often times become the “hidden victims” in blended families. It is not uncommon for step mothers to feel isolated, anxious, or deeply despised by her inherited children, which can lead to depression. (Waterlow). These changes are difficult for everyone involved, but often times step parents are overlooked. Step parents are not permitted to show or display their hurt, and must instead be the cheerleader of the new family, even if they are torn down by their step …show more content…
In trying to create unity and harmony for the family overall, the newly united parents can deprioritize their relationship and marriage (Burton). These reprioritizations from wife and husband to their disagreeing son and daughter can lead to several, debilitating effects, such as many heated arguments or the “guilty parent complex.” When this occurs, one parent is seen as the enforcer – the parent who makes sure that the children go to bed on time, brush their teeth, and take their vitamin, or they can be seen as the “Santa Clause” parent – the one who bends the rules and lets the children eat cake for dinner because they want to be liked. These polar opposite roles can be crippling to a family dynamic, leading to incongruence (Antebi). Other potential argument-spawning issues include discipline style and management of finances. Another probable issue that can arise between a couple navigating the rough seas of step families can be exes and the step child’s other parent. These people have direct contact to the new family dynamic through their children, which can lead to even more insecurities.

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