Information on blended families: Learn what makes for a successful blended family, and the benefits children get by living in a blended family.
Many families are able to overcome the challenges just discussed and will go on to live happy and rewarding lives in blended families. It isn’t a common occurrence – after all, 60% of remarriages will end in divorce, and many among that other 40% have serious struggles – but there are many happy endings when it comes to blended families.
Keys to a successful blended family
One of the primary reasons second marriages have higher failure rates is that so few families know how to successfully blend. (Cherlin, 1981) Those who are able to succeed in a stepfamily tend to exhibit a few key traits:
- They go into the situation prepared, and take steps to ensure this transition goes as smoothly as possible.
- They have realistic expectations.
- They have a strong relationship between husband and wife.
- They are committed not just to themselves and each other, but the family unit as a whole.
- They have a never say die attitude, and are in it for the long haul.
The benefits & advantages of blended families
So we’ve outlined the challenges. On a more positive note, if you can work through these issues and resolve them in productive ways, blended families can also confer a lot of benefits to all involved:
- As the family gets bigger, everyone gains access to a larger network of social support, children included.
- In successful blended families, kids have access to more loving adults.
- Children gain more proficient social skills by learning to adapt to different people.
- Children can gain positive relationships with stepbrothers & stepsisters.
- Kids can become more cooperative and empathetic.
As one parent (and college professor) states, “Becoming part of a blended family has certainly helped my own kids become more tolerant of the idiosyncrasies of others. They’ve learned to compromise with their stepsiblings and to understand that there’s more than one way of doing things. We’ve changed a lot of our ‘black-and-white thinking’ to rainbows.” (Shimberg, 1999, p. 207) Artlip, Artlip and Saltzman note that “For many remarried couples it is different. Their blended family life is better, happier, and more fulfilling than they ever dreamed.” (1993, p. 49) They go on to add that “Learning to live in a blended family environment can be a healthy experience for children. They will discover very quickly that no one is perfect, that everyone has flaws…” (p. 109)
As you embark on this journey together, be sure to read up on all this information and prepare yourselves for what’s to come, so that you can be one of those lucky stepfamilies with a happy ending.