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There was a time when blended families were a rarity, but that tide is slowing turning. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that blended families are booming since statistics dictate that 40% of couples end up getting divorced. This means that remarrying brings with it the strong possibility of a blended family. Now this is something that takes place when partners agree—but that doesn’t mean that it is completely free of problems just because all parties are in favor of it.
A blended family is one where communication, negotiation and co-living take on completely different meanings in the domestic sphere. This is especially a difficult time for children, who not only have to deal with their previous caretakers readjusting themselves differently; they have to deal with new siblings and step parents. And of course children are sensitive when it comes to any changes at the home level, and changes in family structure can take their toll. If not handled the right way this can cause tremendous negative impacts on their personality.
Introducing children to a step family and hoping they will adopt or fit in them is extremely unfair. This can potentially shell shock them and be the beginnings for personality disintegration. It is vital that you communicate freely with your child and explain the dynamics of your new blended family. Tell them that they are still important and that they have a right to be themselves, but now they must learn to respect others and give them a place in their lives as well.
There will always be times when children are unsure of how to act and what to do. Give them some relaxation in this regard and let them withdraw if they wish to. Allowing them time to retreat into their selves is necessary for them to absorb the new changes in their environment. It would also be helpful if you continue some activities with them on your own, perhaps going for ice cream or a walk in the park to help them realize that they are still the same person for you- -reinforcing the idea that nothing has been lost, rather something gained.
Children’s personalities may fade into the background when they no longer receive the same validation they received from you previously. It is important that you continue to recognize their personalities as autonomous and further introduce them to the other, newer members of the family. This may include commenting on their latest haircut, pointing out that they have music lessons to attend when other members are present and further asking for their input in family discussions and meetings.
It is hard enough to hold up your own when it comes to school and peers, it is even more difficult when children feel they are in foreign environments where they are no longer the central figures. The addition of step siblings may upset their sense of self, leaving it up to adults to help them keep their original personalities intact. This is one of the disadvantages of blended family but not one that cannot be overcome or dealt with. Here is how to go about it.