Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
When parents remarry and two families come together, the transition isn't always an easy one, Rabbi Shmuley says. By understanding the emotional and psychological challenges you're up against as well as having the know-how to overcome those obstacles, he says blended families can successfully come together in a spirit of mutual love, understanding and support.

Challenges blended families face:

  • Children are faced with the difficult task of accepting a "replacement" for their biological parent.
  • Bringing together children who are relative strangers can be awkward at best.
  • Parents feel guilty their children have to accept a stranger and therefore neglect to discipline their child when he or she is disrespectful to the stepparent.
  • The ex may be bitter that his former spouse remarried, especially if he is still single, or that children are being raised by a stranger.
  • The above four factors place stress on the new marriage, which statistically has a tough time succeeding anyway, Rabbi Shmuley says.

Ways to unite the family:

  • Conduct regular family meetings to discuss the problems you're having and the progress you've made.
  • Have regular talks with the children who seem disaffected. Consistency is key, Rabbi Shmuley says.
  • If you are a stepparent, have a talk with your stepchildren and tell them, "I am not replacing your parent, but I can still be there for you, and we can be friends."
  • Consider counseling for children who reject the new arrangement. Sometimes they can say things to a stranger that they would not say to a relative, Rabbi Shmuley says.

Today's Shmuleyism
"People are not meant to be alone, so marrying after a divorce or the death of a spouse is a real blessing. But monitor the blending of two families very closely and make the necessary adjustments before problems get out of control."
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