Introducing Your Blended Family
The American Psychological Association has reported that “about 40 to 60 percent of married couples in the United States divorce,” and in subsequent marriages, “the divorce rate…is even higher.” It appears that those seeking a second marriage, family, perhaps even a second chance at life, are at a higher risk of divorce. According to The Stepfamily Foundation Inc., which cites the 2010 US Bureau of Census’ demographic collection, 75% of divorcees remarry, and 50% of “children under the age of 13 are currently living with one biological parent and that parent’s current partner,” also known as a “blended family.”
If half of children under the age of 13 in the United States are living in a blended family, it seems that many parents may face the question, “How should Mom go about introducing her children to her new partner?” And then, right on that query’s heels, “How should Mom introduce her children to her new partner’s children?”
Dating After Divorce, With Kids
I write from the perspective of Mom introducing her children because I am the child in that scenario. My parents were divorced when I was seven. My mother decided to remove our father from our lives because of the potential harm she felt he would inflict on my siblings and me. In subsequent years, my mother began to date, to seek out that second chance at life, and a second chance at a father more suitable for her children.
My introduction to a blended family was unique. My mother thought that it would be best if she was confident in the man she was dating before introducing us kids to him. After all, some ingredients do not blend well. A trial and error might have been necessary to determine who might be the best partner and/or family to blend with hers. My mother dated my stepfather for two years before introducing us kids to him.
Since then, I’ve wondered about her decision. So many other families are introduced earlier, perhaps a couple months into the romance.
It is worth noting that my siblings and I were not introduced to our soon-to-be-steps until a year after my initial meeting with my stepfather.
Understand Your Position Before Blending Two Families
So, what is the right process for introducing your blended family? Have your previous experiences skewed your approach to a more normal encounter, like my mother’s? Or is your situation more typical, where perhaps allowing your children meeting your new partner and his/her children at the same time would yield the best results?
It is vital to understand your position, experiences, and focus before attempting to blend two families into one. The process surely does not come without its difficulties. Various factors may impact your decision on how best to go about it. Are your children in middle or high school? Or elementary school? Are yours all boys and his, a girl? Are his kids the same age or hugely different? Are they in the same grades? Is one kid behind in school for some reason? Or are you home schooling? And these questions are just touching the surface of what you might want to consider.
Perhaps it is best to start the process with a conversation between you and your kids. Explain to them your faith in your new partner and how that person impacts you, as their parent, but also as an individual who desires that new love and family. Children, as I did, often won’t appreciate or understand the adaptation to their family environment. In my personal experience, I found it difficult, at the age of 14, to accept a new male authority figure into my life after not having a father for seven years.
Get Insight from Others In Similar Spots
This process may not be simple. Taking two households, two families, two distinct environments, and merging both into a new, fresh, sometimes hostile single family can affect each member of the team differently. You may have to deal with not only new stepchildren, but a new ex. This is a situation that you cannot control, but you do have the opportunity to take in the circumstances, evaluate them, and shape them to meet your new blended family’s needs.
Research other’s experiences with blending a family. It may be beneficial to open yourself up to possibilities you’ve not considered. No two families are the same. It may also be beneficial to tackle counseling, for yourself or your family. Perhaps recall some of our earlier blogs for insights into developing healthy relationships within your family. Take what you research, what you observe in your own blending family, and go with your gut. It will take time for this new introduction to blossom, but with all things, putting forth effort and creating an atmosphere that fosters love, family, and healthy relationships is the best way to blend a family.