Blended family problems can appear to be unmanageable but they are not. Understanding the basic heart felt emotion that creates your child’s behavior will help create coping skills for all stepfamily members. Don’t think your new marriage was a mistake because the kids won’t accept your new spouse. Don’t allow guilt to sabotage the need for your child to respect household rules and boundaries. Just because you have chosen to remarry and pledge your love to someone does not mean that you love your child any less.
Common blended family problems can be generalized into two heartfelt emotions that materialize in 5 areas of family functioning. For a family to effectively function they need to have set household boundaries, fair consequences communicate effectively, create memories and have personal responsibility to the family system. These 5 areas of family functioning remain the same for children whether they live with their natural family or with a stepfamily.
It is important to note that these functions need to be knowledgeable to all family members and remain consistent. Children thrive under consistency, the will die in chaos. Their behavior is manageable when there are clear unchangeable ways to function in the family system. These truths don’t change now that you are a blended family. Understanding this basic concept will help when addressing emotional behaviors associated with common blended family problems.
COMMON BLENDED FAMILY PROBLEMS
So what are the most common blended family problems?
There are 2 blended family problems that stem from the heartfelt emotions of your child, confusion and fear. Confusion over “who is in charge?” and fear over “am I still loved?”
These 2 emotional blended family problems will present in your child’s behavior as disrespect, anger, jealousy, tantrums, lying, and the inability to focus, The adults in the blended family system need to address these difficulties with a common goal, patience and perseverance. By doing this you alleviate your child’s ability to blame others, make excuses to sabotage family functioning and relinquish their personal responsibility.
Who’s in Charge?
Blended family members have no past history, no memories to draw from, this makes communication of household boundaries and consequences extremely difficult at times. Your child’s is learning how to get what they want, this never will never change, it is part of our human nature. That coupled with the emotion of guilt and loyalty creates emotional havoc for your child. They don’t understand these emotions. They also don’t know how to effectively respond to these inside feelings so they yell, don’t listen, don’t respond, purposefully disregard requests, hit, breaking things, isolate, or cry for no reason.
If your child agrees to listen to the new adult in the stepfamily system the question of loyalty to the absent parent comes into play. If your child is not loyal to their natural parent, they will feel like they are not being a good son/daughter. They become guilty. They perceive listening to the new adult in this relationship as replacement of the absent parent. This is paramount to your child. It was not their idea to change the family system and they will let you know this every way possible.
Am I still loved?
You know that just because you enter into a relationship with another adult it doesn’t replace the love you have for your child. But your child only has one life experience with a love relationship and that is the love between a parent and child, you and them or you and the absent parent. They are afraid, and will fight for parental love at all costs. When you agree with your new spouse it will appear to your child that they no longer count. This underlying thought evokes misunderstood feelings and difficult behavior. They will naturally create situations to get you to prove your love alliance to them. They will yell, act hurt, cry, throw tantrums, act uncontrollable, get in trouble in school, isolate, or withdraw socially. They feel lost, scare and/or not cared for. They wonder if they are being replaced too.
Always remember your child hasn’t had the life experience to build common sense thinking out of a life-changing event. You know that their thinking isn’t logical. You know who is in charge and that you will always love them. You and your new spouse need to take on the task of letting your child know the solution to these 2 emotional blended family problems with patience, consistency, and caring guidance.
If you would like to schedule an appointment to talk about your child's behavior please call The Kennedy Center for Counseling 815-320-3749 and ask to schedule an appointment with Juliann.
Help your child build a moral character by applying these simple guidelines to developing consequences for their behavior.
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