We’ve all heard the statistic that says 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. Additionally, a person who is divorced once is more likely to divorce in their second marriage. However, numbers only tell part of the story. A subsequent effect of divorce is the creation of blended families as parents with children from previous marriages build a household together.
The dynamics of a blended family are different from a traditional nuclear family because more than one set of parents and children must now be considered in arrangements. The decisions of biological parents and the influence of stepparents can create tensions between households, and the potential for conflict is not going away soon.
According to the Pew Research Center, 40 percent of Americans have a step-relative in their immediate family, and the potential for problems arises because stepparents don’t proactively attempt to resolve issues between households, leading to a higher likelihood of divorce in second and third marriages.
So, how can parents and stepparents proactively try to ease tension between families?
Avoid these parenting mistakes after divorce
Parenting is a tough job, and remarrying after divorce can double your duties. However, with the right foresight and communication, some issues can be addressed beforehand including:
- Putting power ahead of parenting. Even the best parents can let their emotions control their actions at the wrong times. This means parents will try to compete for the favor of their children by treating them or refusing to compromise with the equal parenting needs of their ex-spouse. It is important to remember that every action a parent takes should be in the best interest of their children and not in self-service. Parents can attempt to mitigate these conflicts by outlining a parenting plan with an ex that includes guidelines for gifts and parenting time.
- Exposing children to conflict. Many couples do have a low-conflict divorce, and some disagreement is healthy, but exposing negative stress to children can leave them feeling uncertain. Parents can proactively manage these conflicts by outlining an appropriate time and place to settle disputes as they arise.
Blended family members may always feel like they are still mixing and settling. Flexibility is key, and modifications can be made to your divorce and child custody agreements as your family grows. Many of these changes are part of the natural process of growing together intimately as loved ones, dependents, parents and siblings.