Divorce marks both an end and a beginning. Over time, the longing for companionship can draw people together. Although new, these relationships blend aspects of the past with hopes for the future. Children comprise the most prominent part the new family. As with any new experience, the “blended” family brings rewards and challenges.
What are some tools to help make a blended family work?
A stepfamily presents an entirely different set of experiences and emotions for the children. Many will resist, since communication with a new adult and stepsiblings does not occur naturally or immediately. A less-stressful transition requires planning and bonding to deal with the changes most blended families will confront. Tips to soften the shock include:
- Waiting Two Years: Most successful blended families wait to remarry to prevent saturating children with the emotional shock of too many changes at one time.
- Change Parenting Styles: New children will require new styles of discipline and communication. These should be discussed before remarriage.
- Develop Emotional Connection: Children of the other partner may initially fear being judged. Listening to their perspective will help.
- Age-based/Gender approach: Children under age 10 will require more daily needs, while teenagers may spend less time to form their own identities. Also, both boys and girls seek verbal praise from stepparents, but boys seem to accept stepfathers more readily than girls.
- Custody Concerns: Blended families must consider how planning events with the children’s other parent will affect the children and a change in traditions.
How many blended families are in Suffolk County?
Statistics from the United States Census Bureau show that a large number of families in Suffolk County may confront these issues. For 2021, the agency estimates that more than 9,000 children under 18 are either adopted or stepchildren to the head of the household. This represents a slight increase from the same data for 2020.
New relationships begin as others end in a divorce. Children, parents and even extended family members confront new feelings, emotions and expectations to varying degrees. Attorneys who understand how the law weaves within these factors can offer guidance.