We jumped into this blended family with a balloon filled with hope and a belief stronger than the Rock of Gibraltar. We were so excited to knit our families together with courage and love. After all, the love I have for my husband is immense and he is so NOT like the children’s father. Even the kids loved him!

But last night’s conversation was raw, tough and real! We finally admitted, this isn’t working. We are all hurting and hurting each other.

Blended family conflict

Often, I feel like we are two parent-kid planets orbiting around each other. On really bad days we look more like Cruella de Vil’s family, swimming in selfishness, jealousy, power struggles, heartbreak, loss and confusion. There are a lot of different issues working at cross purposes against us, like mismatched custody schedules, different approaches to co-parenting with exes, and the fact that our kids still grieve the loss of their original families. Not to mention new traditions, new extended families, two households and more complicated everything.

Most Frequently Asked Questions:

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Common Blended Family Problems

  • In-laws
  • Trust
  • Alliances
  • The ex has a vote
  • Divided loyalties
  • Bitter sibling rivalries
  • The children’s challenge of split loyalties
  • Identity confusion
  • More comparisons and jealousy
  • Legal disputes
  • Parenting expectations

When to Call it Quits in a Blended Family.

Wow, this question is both easy and tough! The answer is probably not too different than in a first marriage. When to call it quits is a personal decision. Because this is a major decision that affects more than just you, you need to make sure that you have done all that you can to repair the broken relationships. Certainly, if after efforts to get help it is still an abusive and even chronically toxic environment, you may decide to separate. An online therapist can help lead you through these difficult decisions so that you can feel good about either turning your focus to repairing the family or to recognizing that this situation is not likely to repair.

What is a Stepparent’s Role?

Stepparenting is as unique as parenting. There is no one way to train a child to become a responsible, compassionate adult. The task is as varied as the uniqueness of each child. What is certain is that the role of a stepparent must be thoroughly discussed with the biological parent to understand expectations and roles. An online therapist can really be helpful in uncovering the hidden landmines and the typical unseen challenges. However, many family therapists believe that the role of the stepparent needs to be more like that of a loving uncle or aunt, one who is not responsible for the discipline but supports both the child and the parent.

Dealing with Stepchildren and Their Mothers

Do not come between a ‘momma bear and her cub’! All of us hikers know that, through and through. Dealing with a mom and her child who is now in the care of her ex, or worse, the ex’s new girlfriend or wife, will often get mom up on her hind feet roaring. When a mother’s instinct is triggered, the same strength and beauty of her nurturing instincts will also vehemently protect as well. I think we can expect that to be somewhat normal, at least until trust and respect is established.

The real challenge is to understand that no matter what the courts say momma bear will always be ready to protect. This makes it all the more important to work together to be respectful and trustworthy.

While this sounds simple it becomes at least twice as hard as when you were in a first marriage.

Do not come between a ‘momma bear and her cub’! All of us hikers know that, through and through. Dealing with a mom and her child who is now in the care of her ex, or worse, the ex’s new girlfriend or wife, will often get mom up on her hind feet roaring. When a mother’s instinct is triggered, the same strength and beauty of her nurturing instincts will also vehemently protect as well. I think we can expect that to be somewhat normal, at least until trust and respect is established.

The real challenge is to understand that no matter what the courts say momma bear will always be ready to protect. This makes it all the more important to work together to be respectful and trustworthy.

While this sounds simple it becomes at least twice as hard as when you were in a first marriage.

Stepparents Overstepping Boundaries

Stepparents always seem surprised! They thought they had agreed about how to parent and what to expect; however, they often have not even touched the surface of finishing the difficult conversations to make sure they are on the same page. They do not get it. They think that this second or third marriage will use the same strategy as the first one. While understandable, it is just not so. Online therapy for partners can be a real help in times of complicated chaos.

How to Make a Marriage Work with Stepchildren.

Love and respect your partner. Expect that the children will endeavour to divide and conquer. Support your partner while being attentive to your children’s needs.

How to Deal with Rude Teenage Stepchildren

It becomes both biological parents’ responsibility to support the discipline of disrespectful behaviour in both homes.

Blended Family Advantages and Disadvantages

  • Helps develop resilience
  • Provides greater preparation for life’s challenges
  • Teaches self-reliance
  • Stepchildren will provide more honesty
  • Offers better financial support
  • A strong, resilient marriage creates security and happiness

Do Parents Have the Right to Discipline Stepchildren?

Ask both of the biological parents, then make your decision.

Positive Stepparent Tips

  • Listen more than talk
  • Play with them
  • Be interested in what they are interested in
  • Have a relationship with them apart from your partner
  • Never bad mouth your partners or their exes
  • Be humble and kind