With the rising number of divorces and remarrying the number of blended families has increased. Blended families are families that are made by a spouse who is not the biological parent of the children in the family. The experiences of blended families vary from one family to another, but it is true that the children are the most affected in the new family arrangement. In blended families, children have to adjust to acknowledging their father's or mother's new spouse. Blended families take time to achieve the solidarity and cohesiveness in families made by biological parents only. In the same manner, the blended families take different paths to achieve cohesiveness through counseling, open communication and sometimes the children are forced to live with the current arrangement available for them (Gould, Fisher, & Bikel, 2013). This report will assess the experiences in blended families through direct interviews. The summary contains the established themes established in the interview which identifies the problems encountered by blended families and how they overcome them.
The time that the couples in the blended families have been married was observed as a significant variable for the experiences in the families. Those that had been married for more than five years showed that the families had been integrated and they were getting along just fine. However, the families indicated that initially, it took time for the children to show the non-biological parent in the family respect. Similarly, the children in the blended families that the marriage had lasted for more than five years showed that the children were happier than those in young marriages (Gonzales, 2009). However, from the interviews, 75% of the respondent children noted that they took the time to get along with the new parent in the family.
Difficult Adjustments to bring the Families Together
The blended families interviewed noted that adjusting to the new family set-up and sometimes a new home is challenging to the parents and also the children. Although blended families can provide love, support and security to the children and families children were reported in the interviews to experience challenges in fitting in the new family structure. Positive communication was found to be a major ingredient in the integration of a blended family.
Introduction to the Family
Most of the respondents noted that the initial introduction occurred in family gatherings and planned parties that brought the extended family together. The introduction phase was reported to be the most crucial part of the blended families, and most of the respondents argued that further primary communication between the couple and the children were necessary for formal introductions and getting to know each other (Wolfe, 2015). The introduction to the family was noted by the respondents as a major determinant of the blended family cohesiveness.
Current Frustrations, Challenges, and Strategy to create Cohesiveness
The most identified frustration in the adjustment of the blended families was the poor communication which led to the misunderstanding between the new family members (Step, n.d). Open communication strategy and mutual understanding was the main approach to promote mutual understanding between families. Children who lack discipline and understanding of their parent's choices also added to the adjustment challenges and laying down mutual engagement and communication rules made it easy for the families to get along (Wolfe, 2015).
Benefits of a Blended Family
Blended families are a second chance for the children and the parents to have a home and a family. Most blended families create mutual benefits for the family members, and with time the bond between the family members is said to improve (Wolfe, 2015). Blended families are made of dynamic people with different characters and interests, and through interactions, they can gain mutual benefits such as love, companionship and care like in the normal families with both biological parents (Step, n.d).
Effects of Divorce on the Children (behavioral changes, mood, academic performance)
Divorce was reported by 95% of the respondents as traumatic to the children and the parents. Divorce broke communication channels between family members and caused behavioral changes that affected how the family members interact with each other. Divorces reduced the children performance in schools as well as interactions with other students due to emotional hurt and feelings of remorse (Bernal, MoralesCruz, & GomezArroyo, 2015).
Role of Faith in the Family and Marriage
Faith plays a significant role in the integration of the blended families. Most faith denominations offer supportive teachings on love and forgiveness which was noted as important in promoting cohesive families. In the blended families, the misunderstandings are regular, but through faith-based teachings of love and forgiveness, the families can persevere. Families that did not have faith backgrounds were noted to be profoundly affected by long-term grudges and misunderstandings compared to the families that belonged to a faith group (Gonzales, 2009).
Counseling or Pastor Guidance during Transition
Pastoral counseling was reported to be important in promoting forgiveness and coexistence of blended families because they can bring families together as well as identify the member's problems. Pastors enable all the family members to be heard and creates a framework for promoting reconciliation in cases of misunderstandings. Pastoral counseling was reported to be the normal approach of addressing misunderstandings between the blended family members (Bernal, MoralesCruz, & GomezArroyo, 2015).
Most of the respondents noted that challenges in blended families give them important lessons such as resilience and the unconditional love that family members are capable of offering each other. Open communication played as a significant strategy in creating cohesiveness in the blended families because it allows the members to know each other. Pastoral counseling helps the families overcome misunderstandings and also develop bonding which allows the family members to get their needs met within the family.
Bernal, G., MoralesCruz, J., & GomezArroyo, K. (2015). Family counseling and therapy with diverse ethnocultural groups. Counseling Across Cultures, 457.
Gonzales, J. (2009). Pre-family counseling: Working with blended families. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 50(2), 148-157.
Gould, J. W., Fisher, N. B., & Bikel, D. (2013). How children experience the blended family. Fam. Advoc., 36, 4.
Wolfe, B. M. (2015). One Parent's Journey to Discovering Her Self in a Blended Family: Implications for Parents, Educators, and Advocates.
Step, A. L. C. (n.d). Couples Considering a Blended Family. The University of Florida.
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