When couples with children from a previous relationship marry, family relationships are often tested. Rules change, bonds are broken and reformed, and everyone learns to adapt to new family members and new routines. As with all relationships, the key ingredients to success are communication, commitment, compromise, and mutual respect.

All members of blended families must learn to adjust to each other and to new circumstances that can affect every aspect of their lives. While there are bound to be clashes, a blended family can provide many of the same rewards as an original family—especially when it comes to economic support and well-being. Here, a few pros and cons.

The Benefits of Blended Families

Financial. In any family where both adults work, incomes can be merged, expenses can be shared, and one partner can count on the other during difficult economic times. Just as there may be more money available to pay bills, buy food and clothing, and cover everyday living expenses, there may be more money for vacations and luxuries.

Emotional. A family can also serve as an emotional buffer against stresses encountered outside the home. Blended families form their own new rituals, learn important life skills such as teamwork, negotiation and sharing, and enjoy more social support.

The Challenges of Blended Families

Transitional. Children in blended families have lost one of their parents, and sometimes have to move out of a familiar environment—which can mean changing schools, finding new friends, competing with step-siblings, and coming up against many other new challenges. As a result, parents must provide balance, and recognize that they were moms or dads before they were a new couple. Children can't be expected to quickly or easily accept changes in these original relationships.

Financial. Alimony paid to a previous partner can put a financial burden on the new relationship and family.

Emotional. Unresolved emotional distress in both parents and children can carry over from the original family and get muddled with expectations from the new family.

"To deal effectively with the challenges of a blended family, it is important to adopt a unified parenting style," advises New York City psychotherapist, Nicole Breck.

Her advice for any family: When it comes to dealing with family issues, set clear rules to establish about what is and is not acceptable.

Nicole Breck, LCSW, reviewed this article. 



Hammond, Ron J. "Intro to Sociology" http://freebooks.uvu.edu/SOC1200/index.php/ch13-remarriage-and-step-families.html

Weber State University: Nine Steps Toward a Healthy Step-Family http://departments.weber.edu/chfam/Resources/NINE.STEPS.HTML