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Essay Paper on Step Families

“Blended families” is a relatively new term in history, but it, as well as step families, has become part of everyday language in the last 50 years. In a sense, the blended family is often associated with a wicked stepparent or stepsibling of the ”dysfunctional family” in conventional culture. However, one must admit that the classical exposures to blended families are poor examples. On one extreme, there is an evil fairy tale of Cinderella with a wicked stepmother and ugly stepsisters. On the other end of the spectrum, the Americans are presented with the “everyone lived happily ever after” fictional family — The Brady Bunch. However, it is important to be realistic in considering this issue.

One should remember that a blended family, however good it might be, can never be the same as the original family.

One of the parents is not a natural parent of one or more of the children. Blended families have more complicated sets of relationships to manage. There are likely to be grandparents, uncles, cousins and siblings and a parents living outside the family with no links with other members of the step-family. It is important to allow for past experiences as much as possible. For example, children who were exposed to violence in their original family may take a long time to be able to really trust a new step-parent. This has nothing to do with the step-parent, but is a legacy of the past.

It is often tempting not to talk about the past as if it holds painful memories. Yet it is best for the new partner to know about past difficulties. Children should also know if they are old enough. This helps to minimise `secrets’ and `keep out’ topics of conversation, both of which can lead to tension and difficulty. The blended family also needs to work out ways of coping with contact between children and their other parent.

Common sense is one of the best allies in relationships. The members of the family should treat each other with kindness, patience and respect. It is also important to refrain from speaking ill of the children’s other natural parents at all cost. When two separate families come together under one roof, there are going to be conflicts. However, talking about them and understanding the other’s feelings is necessary and critical. It will take time to build a history with each other that will someday grow from affection into familial love. It may take time and probably won’t be easy, but it is well worth the effort.

The first and foremost rule for blended families is that parents do not disagree with each other in front of the children. When spouses have a conflict, it should be discussed behind closed doors. It is very tempting to stand up for one’s own child and point a finger at the stepchild. It is equally tempting to accuse one’s spouse of unbalanced discipline toward your child. However, such mistakes should not be repeated. In fact, the children are thrown together with near strangers and suddenly feel they have to vie for their parent’s attention. They often feel they are being replaced rather than added to.

It is really important for children to see a united front and stable relationships for a change. The most common problem is discipline which can quickly disrupt this unity.” The remarried couple needs to work hard to unite their discipline ideas and styles. Early on, the natural parent needs to talk to their children and reaffirm the control and respect due the stepparent. When the children know ahead of time what is expected of them, their acceptance of the new family becomes easier…

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