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
COVID-19 Pandemic has an Impact on Family Law

I am receiving an increasing number of calls from concerned clients about the impact of COVID-19 on their family law matters. Concern #1 is their parenting time. We are near a time when self-quarantining is a reality. This is an incredibly important measure to keep our families healthy and safe. Emerging are instances where one…

Read More
Blog
What is the Cost of a Divorce in New Jersey?

A recent analysis was published regarding the cost of a divorce in New Jersey. According to the study, the average cost of a divorce without children totals $15,600 and with children, the cost increases to $23,400. One of the first questions I am asked during an initial consultation is how much the divorce process will…

Read More
Blog
Marriage Rate is on the Rise in New Jersey

Recently, while driving into work, I heard a story on the radio.  The story discussed a report that the marriage rate is on the rise in New Jersey. It stated that marriage rates in New Jersey have increased by 8% over the last 10 years but that divorce rates have remained the same. New Jersey…

Read More
Blog
We Hope to Eradicate the “not established” Standard

Every year, there are approximately 90,000 allegations of child abuse and neglect in New Jersey. Of  cases reported in 2019, 67,000 were determined to be “not established” by the State’s Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P). The determination of “not established” is problematic and not much of a legal standard.  The “not established” category…

Read More
Blog
Is January Really “Divorce Month?”

“Divorce Month” Fact or Fiction: Do More Couples Split in January? was a recent article that I came across in the New York Times. The article discusses the belief that January is the busiest month of the year for divorce filings. The article’s information is consistent with my experiences after practicing family law for many…

Read More
Blog
One Year!

One year into owning and running my own firm has been exhilarating, amazing, exhausting with a million other emotions in between. When the news was first announced, many of my friends, who are also solo and small firm owners, reached out to me to try and prepare me for the wild ride I was about…

Read More
Call Now ButtonCall Us