Blended families, also known as step-families, and now some are calling “bonus” families, are estimated to include sixteen percent of children under age 18. Another way to measure this is to know that approximately 65% of remarriages include children from previous marriages. Naturally, some of the patterns present in one’s biological family can spill into the blended family. While conflicts are not inevitable in blended families, I believe it is helpful to be proactive in your awareness of the possible challenges facing the formation of a blended family. Most of the time parents who are in the throes of starting over in remarriage can be looking at the future with rose-colored glasses and are then caught off guard as to the blended family dynamics at play.  

Some issues that can arise are:

  • Sibling rivalry, competition, or jealousy

  • Financial difficulties impacting lifestyle, location, schooling

  • Visitation/scheduling conflicts 

  • Mixed feelings about the step-parent

  • Loyalty binds; membership in two households

  • Pressure to “love” the step-parent 

  • Legal disputes

  • A child having a difficult time sharing the biological parent with step-siblings

  • Differing parenting styles/rules 

While conflicts arise in all types of families, blended families have unique qualities and hurdles to succeed. Please consider family therapy to assist you in addressing issues before they spiral out of control or avoid these problems altogether.