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To think blended families don't work?

(325 Posts)
4China Wed 25-Nov-15 16:28:37

I actually would quite like to be proved wrong here and hear lots of happy stories about it all coming together well. smile

I suspect it's more likely to work when the kids are very young and grow up with another person in a parent role, rather than if families are blended in later life.

My own experience of a blended family is negative and has led me to think that children hardly ever like their step-parents and step-parents don't really love stepchildren like their own (which I think is understandable) although they may care for them and do their very best by them, and that the dynamics of two families living together - some perhaps part time (like I was) - just don't work and lead to all kinds of tensions and resentments. Biological parents have to juggle spending time with their own children and forming a relationship with stepchildren. People co-parent side-by-side despite families having different parenting styles and some children being raised differently for half or a percentage of the time by another party.

Not sure if I can think of a better way to do it though because lots of people split up and lots of people fall in love with new people that they want to be with and that's understandable. I guess maybe people need to stop trying to pretend it's a thing and just parent their children separately. In my case I think half the problem was the parents having this 'rose-tinted' view of what our new family would look like and finding it hard to accept that the kids didn't like each other or their step parents!

I don't think you can make such a sweeping generalisation based on so little evidence. It works brilliantly for some families, not at all for others, and many more families fall everywhere along the scale between brilliant and total failure.

FaFoutis Wed 25-Nov-15 16:31:49

YANBU. I was a step-child from age 5 and it has been a thoroughly miserable experience. I have never encountered a happy 'blended family' and I would never inflict it on my DC. Happy to be proved wrong though.

4China Wed 25-Nov-15 16:33:57

Sorry should have added that I'm not just basing this on my experience but on those of everyone I know. Some work a little better than others but by and large it seems like it never really 'blends'.

DisneyMillie Wed 25-Nov-15 16:36:27

I think it works great for us - my DP is a great second dad to my dd6 - loves her like his own and she loves him just as much. We parent equally (he takes on school runs and discipline too) and in the same style (which may make a difference). Seems to work fine so far when dd is with ex-h and his gf too although they only have her every 2 to 3 weeks so less of an issue.

LittleMissAIBU Wed 25-Nov-15 16:38:43

I know some families where it works really well, and some where it doesn't, same as I know people who are staying in unhappy relationships as they don't want to leave because of the kids but the atmosphere is terrible and everyone is unhappy!

FaFoutis Wed 25-Nov-15 16:39:24

I think parents and children can have very different views on whether their 'blended family' works.

ItMustBeBedtimeSurely Wed 25-Nov-15 16:43:14

Think Fafoutis hit the nail on the head.

GummyBunting Wed 25-Nov-15 16:43:01

YABU I'm from a very successful blended family.
My parents (I consider my SD my parent) got together when I was about 7. I get on fine with my real Dad, there's no trauma or issue, but SD raised me really. Love all my siblings, step or full.

I wouldn't have it any other way.

Nataleejah Wed 25-Nov-15 16:43:05

Depends how the bio parents split up and how are they dealing with it. If there is a lot of grief and bitterness, or the new partner was the cause of the split -- there will be no happy ending

4China Wed 25-Nov-15 16:43:13

I agree I think often the parents would have a rosier view because it's what they want - to be with the person they love and to do the family thing together. And kids often don't speak out because they know that there is this pressure from the adults to be happy and get along and (in my experience) because it's hard to say 'I love you but I would like some time with you away from HER and them as they're not my real family and I don't like them!' grin

GloGirl Wed 25-Nov-15 16:43:29

Yabu. I was the youngest at 10 and my step brother the oldest at 25 when our parents got together. There are a few other siblings in between the age range (keepING it vague)

Of course there have been difficult patches but no more than biological siblings would have in my opinion. We all love each other very much and each recognise the parental role of our step parent.

I think we were all old enough to work from the basis that "my parent's new spouse makes my parent happy"

Bullshitbingo Wed 25-Nov-15 16:44:28

I saw the thread title and was ready to come on here call goady fucker, but actually, I think I agree with you. A lot of my friends growing up had poor experiences of 'blended families' and I think I just put it down to their parents being shit as to why it didn't work, but actually maybe it's destined to fail more often than it will succeed, for all the reasons you outlined.

Good luck to anyone trying to negotiate this situation in their own lives, but personally if my husband died/divorced me I don't think I could ever introduce a step parent to my children. Sorry I know how it sounds, but i just wouldn't want to risk one of the unhappy situations you read about so often on here

Lozza1990 Wed 25-Nov-15 16:45:48

I hated my blended 'family'. I think what really messes it up is all about how parents handle the situation. I know people who have grown up with their step parents, like you said and they think of themselves as family. I also know people who are literally indifferent to their step parents, and that works well. The problem is when you try to force it, which my dad did with me and it was a complete car crash.

SocialAnxiety Wed 25-Nov-15 16:47:00

FaFoutis has nailed it. I can't think of any blended family that I know where everyone's happy.

Whaleshark Wed 25-Nov-15 16:46:39

I think YABU. Obviously in an ideal world everyone would live in happy family units, never split up, and it would all be lovely, but we all know real life isn't like that.

Blended families are not the ideal, but there are lots that do work, despite their issues. I am part of a blended family, both as the child of one, and as a step parent. It is not perfect, and I can't say there are no issues, but everyone rubs along together without major problems.

Its not like more traditional families are all perfect, and trouble free. I think in general any group of people living together will have tensions of some sort, at some time or another. Step relationships obviously bring an extra difficulty, but it is not insurmountable.

Spellcaster Wed 25-Nov-15 16:47:42

Depends what you mean by "work" grin yanbu though, higher misery potential all round, on average.

4China Wed 25-Nov-15 16:47:30

I also think it often works better for the parents when the children are younger as it's easier to love someone else's child when it's small and cute but when it becomes a challenging teenager, tolerance is much lower (from both parties). I know my sister-in-law adored her stepchildren when they were little girls and was totally smitten with them but now they are teens and she has a new baby she often makes negative comments about them 'hanging around' and how she just wants time with her own little girl and husband without always having to consider them...

FaFoutis Wed 25-Nov-15 16:49:27

I sometimes read the step parents' threads on here and I see all the same sort of thinking that gave me a miserable childhood.

I don't think they are being nasty most of the time, but they are completely wrapped up in their own needs and the excitement of a new relationship. The child is the one who suffers, and quietly most of the time.

DisneyMillie Wed 25-Nov-15 16:51:11

But a biological family can just as easily be unhappy and not work. I think people come at it from their own perspectives. I'm quite offended that people think my child might not tell me their real feelings (I know it wasn't aimed at me necessarily). My dd actually objects if we do things without DP - she loves our family.

Alisvolatpropiis Wed 25-Nov-15 16:51:35

My step dad is wonderful, I refer to "all my parents" when speaking about them as I feel he's had just as much of an impact on my life and upbringing as my dad (who was by no means a hands off absent dad). He doesn't have his own children but thinks of me and my sibling as being such.

My dads ex partner loved my brother and I, still does despite them not having been together for years and years now. She does have her own children.

I think blended families can work if parents (not just the one in the relationship) want it to and the blending isn't forced at a rate of knots to make the adults happy. I didn't think of my step dad the way I do now overnight, probably took the better part of a decade (I was 10 when my mum met him).

I think a lot of newly single parents make poor choices regarding their new partners. Some step mothers really do try and force their step children out of the picture, especially common if they didn't have a child of their own at the start of the relationship but go on to have one.

My dad ended a relationship with a woman who had two children because she although she thought he was a great dad, she wanted him to be a great dad to her children rather than his own confused

Memeto3boys Wed 25-Nov-15 16:52:23

We are a blended family Dh joined our family when my eldest was 8 we now also have 2 children together. My eldest ds loves his brothers and sees my Dh as his dad as far as he's concerned Dh isn't a step dad just his dad and he sees his brothers as brothers not half brothers. He actually got upset that school kept referring to my Dh as my partner and not his dad and saying his brothers are half brothers. We have issues like other families but if am honest my ds has more issues with me than Dh. My Dh and eldest and middle child are all also autistic which can make situationsure difficult but I would say from us as a parents point of view and my ds point of view we work well as a blended family.

FaFoutis Wed 25-Nov-15 16:52:30

Not aimed at you Disney. That sounds positive.

4China Wed 25-Nov-15 16:57:14

I see my friend doing this. She's in a new relationship and is desperately trying to blend the families and my heart aches for her sons. Maybe unreasonably so as they could be fine for all I know, but every time I see a picture on FB of yet another weekend where they're all together or hear him disciplining them I think 'Noooooooo, take it slowly - he's nothing to do with them!'

It's hard as a child - in fact it's hard in any position if you don't like the partner of a close friend or family member. I don't like my sister's husband but I would never say to her 'Can you come over without him tonight, I just want to see you on your own?' - I put up with him because I love her (though admit to engineering one-on-one time sometimes!) but a child can't do that if they are in a situation where they have to live with the disliked partner of one of their parents. There's no way to get away from them without causing big upset.

Memeto3boys Wed 25-Nov-15 16:56:55

Just wanted to add that if the relationship between ds and Dh wasn't working I wouldn't have kept my relationship with Dh or married him. My ds had to be happy and comfortable for it to have worked.

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