I had the pleasure of interviewing Judy Graybill, Stepparent Coach and author on this week’s podcast episode 223. She just wrote an e-book titled The 5 Biggest Risk Factors for Blended Families. After our interview I kept thinking about some of the points she made, and here’s where I landed.
- Having a Family Mission Statement ties the entire family together. The Family Mission Statement includes the parents and the children. The children can have a voice in how they want their new blended family to function. Any time everyone on a team has a voice in how the team operates, they become stakeholders. They have a place, a point and a purpose, an identity, and a voice. This is how a team becomes cohesive and healthy. What could go wrong? Okay, life can still get in the way, but the starting point is strong enough that the team can endure hard times.
- There are more Blended Families now than First Families. This was shocking! No one had every said that. I wasn’t ready to deal with statistics, while understanding how that could be true if 50% of first marriages, 60% of second marriages, and 70% of third marriages end in divorce. With the percentage of divorces increasing as marriages increase, this makes sense. Even more important to understand how to make blended families work smoothly and be connected.
- Cohabitation rates are soaring, making the exact number or percentage of blended families inexact. But this begs a further question: Why aren’t people marrying as much as they used to? Is it because the adults who are cohabitating are due to being children of tough divorces? Something to think about it.
- Children grieve the loss of the family, just like parents grieve the loss of the marriage. This is such an important concept to understand because it sets the tone and the challenge for the blended family. Sensitivity to how children feel, what their challenges are in moving forward from the divorce, and how to get them comfortable and confident in their new blended family become clearer. Children must have a voice in what they need emotionally, and in their co-parenting schedule. Treating children with the respect they need in dealing with their grief can move mountains in a blended family dynamic.
Stir the pot, make waves, shake it up, let the chips fall where they may, are all good metaphors for designing a blended family team that can be strong, vibrant and enjoyable when the feelings of all family members are taken into consideration and a family mission statement developed that serves each person’s unique family personality.
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