According to a 2009 survey by the Marriage and Religion Research Institute, which specializes in social science data and research, only 47 percent of U.S. children reach age 17 in an intact married family. This doesn’t mean only single parents are raising kids, however. When parents remarry, a new family structure is created. Stepparents and new sibling enter the picture, which can cause a myriad of dilemmas. Feuds between stepsiblings are common, especially when they are similar in age. Competition for a parent’s affection begins, causing tension in the household. Oftentimes, it just takes time for family members to adjust to their new situation.
Other times, however, the negative change may be more permanent. These situations become increasingly more complicated, especially for the children, who may be expected to respect these new family figures right away, although they hardly know them.
“If the parent places expectations on their child to ‘love’ the stepparent before a relationship has developed or the stepparent takes on the role of the primary disciplinarian, there is likely to be resentment, hurt and anger,” Cerniglia explains.
On the Bright Side
Despite the challenges and stress caused by divorce, there are positive aspects, as well. The situation can instigate self-reliance and maturity on the child’s part. Simply comprehending what has taken place during the separation can heighten a child’s social and societal ways of thinking. The benefit of procuring a larger family and, therefore, more support, can be a feature in the blended family equation, as well. Ultimately, there are couples that are not meant to be together. When parents are honest with their children and work to lessen the damage divorce can cause, it shows children that their parents really care.
The matter should never go undiscussed, nor should children be left in the dark about what is happening. By remaining open and truthful with children about divorce, parents can help minimize the harm or emotional issues in the child’s future.