The harsh reality in love is that relationships may come and go. People come together with the intent to stay together but sometimes, that doesn’t happen. If children are involved, this brings a whole different element to the relationship game. Whether it’s just the end of a relationship or a failed marriage, things get complicated when children are involved. In this day and age, people are going the extra mile to bring families together and take the “step-parent” relationship to another level. The term ‘blended family’ has become increasingly popular when describing the family unit that makes up a person, their new partner, and the children from a previous relationship.
People have been blending families for years but modern times have seen a different display them. Some couples have made it a point to include all parties involved…even if that means the children, ex-spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend, and sometimes their new partner (and children if applicable). People in these kinds of arrangements call themselves a blended family. They go on vacation together, celebrate together, and even have weekly dinners together.
Keeping the family together is important but is all of this mixing and mingling between ex’s and what not even necessary?
The blended family unit seems to work for some. Most people agree that it is in the best interest of the children to have a civil relationship with their other parent…in most cases this might be true. The problem with achieving a “working” blended family unit is that all parties involved need to be on the same page. Most of the time, they are not. There are plenty of situations where biological moms and overachieving step-moms butt heads. This is primarily caused by unclear boundaries of their roles in a blended situation. While a more supportive role is appropriate, step-moms in some blended situations seem to take on a “second-mom” role.
Overstepping biological mom boundaries is a sure way for a blended family not to work.
Respect and communication are key factors in a blended family situation. Communicating everyone’s roles and responsibilities need to be established first and foremost.
A successful blended family is complicated to achieve if all of the prior relationship issues between the ex’s are not resolved. Being bitter towards an ex or still having feelings will definitely influence the progress in a blended family. If old feelings still exist, the decision making process becomes difficult. Parents can be civil when they split but when they start dating or get married, things sometimes change. Jealousy is real and when people see their ex in a new relationship, they get salty. The affected parent will base their decision making on feelings and that can often result in conflict. Making sure the child’s best interest comes first is always a factor. Angry/jealous parents sometimes forget that and try to do what they can to make the other person miserable. This behavior is an absolute no-no.
Trying to get the new person to “take over” the role as mother or father is also not helpful in a blended situation. Children only have two biological parents and if they are relevant in their lives, there is no need to add to the equation. When single parents are dating, the children’s feelings should be heavily considered. No one should be forced upon the children and unless it’s a serious situation, no one should be given a “parent” role. Taking up the role as a “second mother/father” could result in good intentions gone bad. Toes get stepped on, feelings get hurt, and there is a lot of controversy involved. Being the support for your mate and helping to parent their child is of the utmost importance. Trying to be the child’s mother/father when one already exists is not.
Blended families can work. Swizz, Alicia, and Mashonda seem to do it well. They vacation together, celebrate birthdays together, and even hang out together.
While sharing that much personal space and time with an ex may seem overwhelming, the benefits to the children outweigh the negatives. Personally, breaking up with someone is a sign that spending time with them is no longer an option, especially if the new bae is in tow. Parenting can be effective minus all the extra blending and what not. Communication, respect, and common sense are some of the basics needed to blend families and make co-parenting work.