The Blender: Blended Families
CASE STUDY 1
Four-year-old Simon got a new dad. He didn’t understand why his own daddy left, but he remembered being frightened because there was a lot of shouting before his daddy went and his mother cried a lot. His new dad wasn’t anything like the old daddy. When Simon’s biological daddy took him out on the weekends, he bought him candy and presents. Simon liked his real daddy. He didn’t like the new one. His new dad didn’t know how to get Simon to accept him.
|Small children do not know anything about changes in family dynamics, or why they don’t like a “new” parent. They grieve for their biological parent because that is who they know and have a relationship with.|
|The parent who has left home will often try to make up for their absence by giving their kids a lot of gifts in an attempt to relieve their own guilt for no longer being a major part of the child’s life. This makes it very difficult for a child to adjust to a new parent figure.|
|Parents should refrain from making negative remarks about the biological departed parent, or the step parent who has taken their place within the family structure.|
CASE STUDY 2
Gracie and Grayson were the eleven-year-old twins of Nelson Brown. His marriage had broken up two years before and he had recently married Robyn, who had two children from a previous relationship.
Nelson felt badly about the kids’ losing their mother and tried to make up for it by not making them do daily chores or disciplining them. He didn’t have any trouble disciplining Robyn’s children, however, (and they complained to their mother about how unfair he was with them because he wasn’t demanding the same of his own kids.) The tension escalated.
|Parents of newly constituted families need to agree on child rearing before they marry.|
|Before marriage, they should discuss their intentions to marry with their children. If the kids are 3-4 years and older then there should be plenty of discussion about what the new family will look like. |
|Once married, parents need to have regular round table discussions with all the children. They need to decide on family values, expectations and consequences for non-performance. Children need the opportunity to bring any concerns to the table for discussion and resolution.|
|Parents and children need to understand that there will be a period of adjustment and that each family member needs to feel valued as an integral part of the family.|
CASE STUDY 3
Eighteen-year-old Sonja had recently lost her mother in a tragic car accident. Although it was life shattering for her, she recognized that her father was also struggling and tried to stay strong for him, wondering if he would ever get over it.Although she no longer lived at home, she tried to visit her father at least 3 times a week to keep him company.
About six months after the accident, he started getting out and about and to her shock, suddenly announced his intention to marry a widow who lived 300 miles away. Sonja couldn’t believe he would be so disrespectful to the memory of her mother and his wife. She talked about it often with her friends, trying to come to terms with his decision. The new woman was wealthy, had a grown family and didn’t seem to need anything from anyone, including Sonja. Their wedding day came and went. Sonja didn’t like her one bit.
|A child of any age will typically feel hurt when another person replaces an absent parent. The primary parent should recognize this and acknowledge the great comfort that the child has been during his / her time of grief.It is important to also discuss with the child, what their role will be in the new family. If necessary, the primary parent should get some professional advice on comforting / understanding what the child(ren) is experiencing.|
|At eighteen years of age, a young person should recognize that a parent has needs that a child cannot fulfill.|
|The stepfather / mother coming into the family should build a relationship with their new love’s children before the marriage to help ensure a smooth transition.|