Submitted by: Shirley Cress Dudley
Great question! Yes- there are some families that have been blended for years (sometimes up to 20 years!) and still haven’t accepted each other as family. Here are some reasons a blended family may stay incompatible and not blend.
If the children are over 21 when the couple remarries:
It’s possible that the family doesn’t “blend” because the children have moved out on their own and are starting their own families. That’s O.K., as long as there is respect for the new stepparent, as their parent’s spouse. It does make life a little tougher for the grandkids (who don’t understand why some of the grandparents are not accepted equally,) but it’s somewhat understandable if the kids are already on their own as adults and making their own decisions. These adult children are limiting the love these stepparents can have for them and for their children, but it is their own choice.
If the parents did not consider their children when they remarried:
Once the divorced mom and dad start dating again, they are looking for not only a spouse, but also a stepparent to his or her children. It does make dating more difficult, but it is very necessary to understand if your new love is interested in getting to know your children, love them and spent time raising them with you. A parent should only marry someone that will be a good stepmom/stepdad to his or her kids.
If the parents are not willing to treat each child (biological or step) fairly and equally:
Some parents forget that they should treat their child the way they want their new spouse to treat their children. Each parent should treat each child in the home (whether biological or step) equally and fairly. House rules need to be established and followed by all. There should be consequences, enforced by the biological parent, if these house rules and guidelines are not met. It should be unacceptable for a child to treat a stepsibling or stepparent with disrespect or rudeness.
Some families just don’t blend
In reality, there are some families that never get along. In my opinion, I don’t think it’s the kid’s fault- it’s the parents’ fault. It’s the parent’s responsibility to communicate their expectations for the newly blended family. Reminding their children that everyone should treat each other with respect, everyone is loved and special in this house, and to treat your stepfamily the way you want to be treated. If the parents don’t communicate these guidelines, then the kids don’t know how to act and feel it’s O.K. to have a constant “war” going on.
I don’t believe personality differences have a part in the blending process. As a parent- when our kids are born, we love them, immediately and automatically. We may have children that have our personality or children that have personalities completely different from us. It doesn’t matter- we love them just the same. But, there are days when we may not like this child (due to their behavior or actions) but we still love them.
In summary, I do believe that any family can get along- yes any blended or step family- no matter how different, as long as the parents are devoted to each other and determined to be the best parents they can be to all of the children in their home.
Shirley Cress Dudley is a licensed professional counselor with a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Counseling, and a master’s degree in Education. She has a passion for helping blended families grow strong and be successful. Visit her website at Blended Family Advise for more help with your blended family and step parent issues.