The Family Merger

By Teri Reisser
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email
Be intentional when blending families to smooth the process.

Say the words ideal blended family, and for many people, “The Brady Bunch” comes to mind. But in real marriages that include children from a previous union, you don’t create a successful family merger in tidy 30-minute installments.

A remarrying couple often fails to realize that they are far more excited about the union than their kids. For most children, Mom or Dad’s new marriage presents unwelcome challenges:

  • Disloyalty issues. Remarriage can put a child in a terrific bind. Does friendliness with a stepparent constitute disloyalty to the biological parent?
  • Family position. The merger of two families often results in the loss of status and privileges for the children involved. For example, a youngest child may find herself shifted to a less strategic position in the new lineup. And an eldest or only child — who perhaps assumed the role of surrogate partner after his parents’ divorce — may be demoted from “numero uno” to a discouraging “numero whatever-o.”
  • New rules. The new marriage represents yet another adjustment to rules arising from multiple (and rarely consistent) sets of adult authority. 

Solutions

Here are some ways to smooth the process of blending families:

  • Decide together what the ground rules will be for all the kids. You and your new spouse need to align your assumptions about parenting, especially when it comes to setting limits.
  • If at all possible, avoid moving into one or the other’s existing home. Otherwise, one family may feel like their territory has been invaded, and the other may feel like interlopers in someone else’s home.
  • Make time to listen. Have regular family meetings to talk about what’s working and what isn’t. Each member of the family should be given the opportunity to express feelings and respectfully make suggestions.
  • Be patient. Families do not blend quickly. In a best-case scenario, it will take a full year for children to adjust to the new arrangements.

One final thought: The marriage relationship — blended or otherwise — takes priority over all others. So keep your marriage strong. That commitment is the foundation upon which you will create a harmonious community under your roof.

 


Focus on the Family has resources and counseling to help you and your family. You can contact us during normal business hours at:

(800) A-FAMILY (232-6459)
[email protected]

Or you can find resources, referrals and articles to help you right now.

Adapted from Your Spouse Isn’t the Person You Married by Dr. Paul and Teri Reisser. Copyright © 2010 by Dr. Paul and Teri Reisser. Used by permission. 

Share:
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

About the Author

Teri Reisser

Teri Reisser is a marriage and family therapist and a marriage workshop leader. Teri and her husband, Paul, have authored or co-authored numerous books including Your Spouse Isn’t the Person You Married. They have two adult children.

You May Also Like

Thank you [field id="first_name"] for signing up to get the free downloads of the Marrying Well Guides. 

Click the image below to access your guide and learn about the counter-cultural, biblical concepts of intentionality, purity, community and Christian compatibility.

(For best results use IE 8 or higher, Firefox, Chrome or Safari)

To stay up-to-date with the latest from Boundless, sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter.


If you have any comments or questions about the information included in the Guide, please send them to [email protected]

Click here to return to Boundless

Focus on the Family

Thank you for submitting this form. You will hear from us soon. 

The Daily Citizen

The Daily Citizen from Focus on the Family exists to be your most trustworthy news source. Our team of analysts is devoted to giving you timely and relevant analysis of current events and cultural trends – all from a biblical worldview – so that you can be inspired and assured that the information you share with others comes from a reliable source.

Alive to Thrive is a biblical guide to preventing teen suicide. Anyone who interacts with teens can learn how to help prevent suicidal thinking through sound practical and clinical advice, and more importantly, biblical principles that will provide a young person with hope in Christ.

Bring Your Bible to School Day Logo Lockup with the Words Beneath

Every year on Bring Your Bible to School Day, students across the nation celebrate religious freedom and share God’s love with their friends. This event is designed to empower students to express their belief in the truth of God’s Word–and to do so in a respectful way that demonstrates the love of Christ.

Focus on the Family’s® Foster Care and Adoption program focuses on two main areas:

  • Wait No More events, which educate and empower families to help waiting kids in foster care

  • Post-placement resources for foster and adoptive families

Christian Counselors Network

Find Christian Counselors, Marriage & Family Therapists, Psychologists, Social Workers and Psychiatrists near you! Search by location, name or specialty to find professionals in Focus on the Family’s Christian Counselors Network who are eager to assist you.

Boundless is a Focus on the Family community for Christian young adults who want to pursue faith, relationships and adulthood with confidence and joy.

Through reviews, articles and discussions, Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live.

Have you been looking for a way to build your child’s faith in a fun and exciting way?
Adventures in Odyssey® audio dramas will do just that. Through original audio stories brought to life by actors who make you feel like part of the experience; these fictional, character-building dramas use storytelling to teach lasting truths.

Focus on the Family’s Hope Restored all-inclusive intensives offer marriage counseling for couples who are facing an extreme crisis in their marriage, and who may even feel they are headed for divorce.