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.
"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."