You can find a lot of statistics about marriage, remarriage, and families available online. Many of them fail to paint a complete picture of what it means to be living in a blended family. About 65% of parents who get married again bring their children with them into the new household.
That means the problems of a past family system can sometimes crossover into the new one. Every family experiences conflict of some type, but those that have blended features tend to have several unique challenges that most parents don’t realize exist until they encounter them for the first time.
When you know what to expect if you’re creating a blended family, then it is easier to help each person address potential areas of concern before they have a chance to spiral out of control. You might even get to avoid some of the problems altogether!
Here are the critical blended family advantages and disadvantages you’ll want to review as you begin this journey with your partner.
List of the Advantages of a Blended Family
1. It creates a foundation for better financial support.
Single parents often struggle to make ends meet. Some work more than one job to make sure rent, food, and clothing are available for the family. Meeting someone who becomes part of the family can make financial life easier for everyone. Two parents might both work in a blended family, which means two incomes are available. If one parent earns enough to support everyone, then the other parent can stay home.
This advantage means more money becomes available to ease the burden of providing for everyone. Having high levels of mental peace can lead to successful outcomes.
2. Blended families can lead to higher levels of happiness.
When parents are happier more consistently, then so are their children. That’s why blended families always offer a chance to create successful outcomes. When kids see their parents have less anxiety and stress, then it makes them feel good. They’ll work together with you to make the relationship work because they want the stability that their friends in nuclear families receive.
A happy remarriage can provide kids with a good model of marital interaction, reducing the odds of divorce for children after they become adults and seek relationships of their own to manage.
3. It can lead to more problem-solving skills.
Kids that come from blended families tend to learn how to become more flexible. This advantage occurs because there tend to be more conflicts that require resolution. It is easier for them to adapt to new people and situations because of the changes that occur in their living arrangements. This process leads to the skill of finding compromise, solving problems, and becoming good role models for the rest of their family and their extended community.
4. There are more family members that can offer personalized support.
It can feel satisfying to solve problems on one’s own without any help, but it also feels good to know that there are people who love you at home. Blended families can provide kids with more responsible and loving adults in their lives when you approach your relationship situation with care. New brothers and sisters can provide an only child with new companionship and playmates. There’s another set of grandparents that will be in the picture in some families.
The networks of support for teaching and nurturing can expand when you form a blended family. It is a chance for everyone to love more and receive love more at the same time.
5. You are always going to receive honest answers.
Stepkids are always going to be honest with you about what they dislike about your parenting style. It’s one of those situations that you get to take for better or worse. When you receive this feedback from them and accept it, then your listening skills can prove to them that you’re invested in forming a relationship. You might discover that they’re right about how you can interact more effectively as a parent with them.
The reality of a blended family is that you get to have people in your life who want you to have them in yours. Although there are plenty of horror stories about stepparents and step-siblings, you can also find twice as many positive outcomes.
6. It can provide children with a broader view of the world.
Every child grows up in a family environment that feels “normal” to them. Every family is different in how it functions on a daily basis. That means it can be a shock to some kids when they go to college to discover how other people live. When you form a blended family, then the outcome can be a stretching of your child’s thinking patterns. It can lead to them having a stronger sense of self in a world that often feels chaotic and uncertain.
7. The blended family can provide a better role model.
Children that go through a divorce often blame themselves for the split that happens between their parents. Kids always learn something during this process, and it isn’t always positive when they consider intimate relationships in the future. When their parent can form a marriage that has more positive traits to it, then they’ll have more energy to become better role models in the future.
Children from blended families often score higher than those in nuclear households in the areas of forgiveness, generosity, and negotiation. Those are critical ingredients in a recipe that leads to a successful marriage in the future.
8. Blended families can help to teach resilience.
Resilience is sometimes in short supply today. The ability to bounce back after pain, conflict, or despair is a critical skill for all of us. A blended family will always encounter feelings of loss and conflict that must be overcome. You can’t avoid these issues at home. Tough situations create an ability to learn how to stay optimistic even when times seem difficult. Teaching kids how to work through these processes can give them lessons that they can carry along throughout the rest of their lives.
9. A blended family can still encourage independence and self-reliance.
Kids who come into a blended family already went through a divorce where they had to learn self-reliance and independence. A similar process occurs if one of their parents suddenly passes away. Kids learn how to wash dishes, cook meals, and help with the laundry. If they have younger siblings, then they can babysit or make school lunches without requiring a lot of supervision. Teens typically go after a part-time job to cover the cost of an activity.
Kids that come out of blended families get the best of both worlds when they have loving parents supporting them. It’s a chance to maintain independent living skills while learning how to compromise and negotiate.
List of the Disadvantages of a Blended Family
1. It can lead to bitter sibling rivalries.
After a blended family forms, the struggles for performance can increase amongst all siblings. Competition exists in every family, but the rivalry that develops in your home between non-biological brothers and sisters can grow bitter very quickly. You might see more frequent fighting than you recall in your previous family environment. Encouraging kids to compete against their own personal bests can reduce some of this issue, but it will not disappear entirely.
Try to praise moments of understanding or kindness that occur when you see them in your new blended family. If you go into this process thinking that everyone is going to be best friends with each other, then the results you experience will likely feel disappointing.
2. Most kids will struggle to share parents.
A blended family typically has more children than a nuclear family. If an only child is used to receiving unconditional attention and now must split it between two other kids, then the reduction in time spent with a birth parent can feel like a negative family situation for some children. Some kids might even feel that their biological parents should spend more time with them than their new brothers or sisters.
It takes a lot of patience and time to resolve issues in this area. Try to encourage your kids to speak openly about their feelings while you work to create an atmosphere that involves mutual respect.
3. It can create moments of identity confusion.
When a blended family forms, one of the parents (usually the mother) may decide to change their last name to create something more nuclear. If this event happens, the children don’t typically get the same opportunity – and most wouldn’t want to use it anyway. This disadvantage can sometimes lead kids to feel like they’ve been abandoned, internalizing their feelings to create negative emotional and behavioral outbursts.
Frank discussions about this issue can provide perspective, but it may not offer a lot of help when resolving conflicts related to it. Name changes are optional, so you might consider taking a different approach if you suspect trouble forming in this area.
4. Kids can have mixed feelings about their stepparent.
Some biological parents demand that their children call the new spouse “Mom” or “Dad.” This expectation creates a problem for many kids because they don’t always see a stepparent as an actual parental figure. Some children might call their new stepparent by their first name as an act of defiance, especially when it feels bothersome.
Positive feels can start to develop quickly even if there is an initial dislike for the situation. Even that outcome can create complex emotions as kids try to sort out their feelings for their parent and stepparent simultaneously.
5. Blended families typically experience more legal disputes.
When two families become one, it can add to the legal issues that are already surrounding the parents and kids. A divorce might let one partner get the family house, but that agreement might need to change when remarriage enters the picture. Financial difficulties can impact one biological parent, but not the others. You can avoid involving the kids in these situations, but they are going to know that something is happening. How you present yourself will determine how positive the outcome ends of being.
6. It can lead to plenty of financial difficulties.
Going from a family of three to one with seven can lead to instant financial problems for blended families. Money is often scarce in these situations because of previous divorce proceedings for one or both spouses in the new relationship. You’ll want to get some help from a financial advisor to work on getting everything back on track. You can also speak with an attorney if you feel like you’re paying too much in alimony or not getting enough child support.
Even when you get everything right, blended families typically have about 40% fewer resources available to them than those in traditional structures. More of them are also living paycheck-to-paycheck.
7. It can be challenging for parents to stop comparing spouses.
Many people in blended families find themselves harboring emotions like anger, hatred, and disappointment to their former spouses. It is not unusual to find themselves comparing the behaviors of a new spouse with the previous one. Even when one tries to hide it, this approach to living creates judgmental attitudes that can trickle down to the kids. Jealously often plays a large role in blended families, and it can lead to negative outcomes that can split people apart.
That divide can be challenging to overcome once it forms. Kids at a core level are always going to feel like one parent isn’t “real.” No one is replaceable, so trying to do so can lead to adverse outcomes very quickly.
Every family situation is unique. That means you and your partner will determine the success rate of your blended family. Although several studies suggest that the failure rate of these relationships can be as high as 70%, there is nothing that says you can’t be the family that beats the odds.
Part of what makes a blended family successful is a focus on helping the children adjust to their new living situation. When every parent and stepparent in the expanded family dynamic puts the interests of every child first, then there is a higher opportunity for success. What makes this situation work is having two cooperative parents that create a stable and loving environment.
Divorce is still frowned upon in some communities. Remarried parents say it is one of the pervasive problems that their blended family faces. Times are also changing – three-quarters of today’s college students say that there is no shame being part of a stepfamily. When you evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of blended families, it is important to remember that fact.
Brandon Miller has a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a seasoned writer who has written over one hundred articles, which have been read by over 500,000 people. If you have any comments or concerns about this blog post, then please contact the Green Garage team here.