Blog

Blended Family? Think about this

More than half of the families in the United States were formed by remarriages or re-coupling of relationships. Based on current statistics, half of all marriages in the United States end in divorce.  And, the average length of a marriage is seven years. With the ending of marriages, the subsequent remarriages or the forming of new relationships after divorce — particularly those remarriages or relationships that integrate children into the new relationship — create certain dynamics that are different from those of prior relationships.

Integrating the Children

First, with a blended family, it is critical to support the children, especially emotionally. It is not unusual for a child to pine for the original family unit.  A child may struggle as he or she adapts to a new stepparent, new step-sibling(s), new neighborhood, and/or new school. It can be overwhelming for a child to digest and process this transition into a new family unit, and if not done with the best interests of the child in mind, can often lead to emotional outbursts, or internal psychological turmoil, detrimental to the health and welfare of a child.

Therapeutic Support

The key to a successful transition is ensuring that the family has the therapeutic support it needs. Working with a family therapist can be the key ingredient to successful blending. This process can work if the family, as a unit, remains committed and engaged in the process, without trivializing any member’s needs or expectations.

Obtaining therapeutic support even before remarriage or moving in with a significant other is ideal, as it allows ample time to identify and address issues. The need for therapeutic support may continue long-term, however, as complicated issues with the role of the stepparent and step-family emerge.

Discipline Issues

Some children respond well and are receptive to active, involved stepparents.  Some may even become comfortable with discipline from a stepparent. Others may not adapt easily when a stepparent takes the role of disciplinarian.  The stepparent must respect the boundaries of a child’s comfort zone. In that case, a stepparent may need to step back and learn how to be a friendly, supportive adult in the stepchild’s life. The focus should be on trying to establish a bond to the stepchild without trying to replace a biological parent. Children often do not want or need replacements, but rather a unified support system with strength in numbers. Children tend to thrive when they have loving, connected adults to support them. Therefore, surrounding a child with meaningful adult relationships such as these will have a positive effect on a child’s happiness.

The Outcome

The recipe for a successfully blended family rests on a generous helping of love, complemented with a dash of patience, a handful of tolerance, and a sprinkle of luck, and topped with an abundance of selflessness. Above all, it is paramount that the adults involved put the child’s needs before their own. In time, a happy, loving, balanced family should be perfected.

Please contact me at jlawrence@lawlawfirm.com if you have questions about this post or any other family law matter.

Subscribe to Our Blog

SHARE THIS POST:

Related Posts

Blog
What is Emancipation in New Jersey?

As a general matter, New Jersey parents must pay child support until the emancipation of a child. Emancipation is a term that describes the occurrence of an event wherein a child has moved beyond the “sphere of influence” of his or her parents. In other words, emancipation is the act by which a parent relinquishes…

Read More
Blog
Divorcing Police Officers Face Unique Parenting Time Issues

Divorcing police officers and firefighters, like other clients, face a multitude of issues.  For most parties, the paramount concern is custody and parenting time when there are children born of the marriage. For most parents who work “9 to 5” jobs, there will be a traditional custody and parenting time arrangement.  This agreement is either…

Read More
Blog
Private School Costs in New Jersey Divorces

In a New Jersey case where the parties’ agreement calls for them to “equally divide…school costs,” and one party does not contribute to the costs for years, even though not explicitly asked to do so, a court can enforce the agreement and compel contribution. In the unpublished Appellate Division case of Fanelli v. Hnatowski, the…

Read More
Blog
Grounds for Divorce in New Jersey

A client may want a divorce, but may be unsure on what basis a court would grant them a divorce.  In New Jersey, there are several grounds for divorce.  The legal term for grounds for divorce is “cause of action.”  In every divorce, a party has to allege a specific cause of action that warrants…

Read More
Blog
What About The Family Dog!? Asked a Divorced Parent

For many of our clients, a family dog is an integral and beloved part of the family. They provide ample love and support.  We couldn’t possibly imagine having to part ways with a pet as a result of a separation or divorce. This is especially true for our client’s with children who have grown attached…

Read More
Blog
What Records and Documents Should I Gather if I am Considering a Divorce?

If you are considering a divorce in New Jersey, a wise starting point is to inventory your financial records and documents. Here is a list of 14 records you should gather: Social Security Earnings Statement.  This is a snap shot of both parties’ respective income.  The statement shows a clear picture of the earning history…

Read More
Call Now ButtonCall Us