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Stepfamilies are increasing in prevalence
According to statistics, step-families are the fasting growing type of family in the UK, making up 10 percent of all families with dependent children. In 2001 there were 631,000 step-families with dependent children in England and Wales, of which 346,000 were married and 285,000 were cohabiting.
It has been estimated that there are now more reconstructed families than nuclear families and men are becoming increasingly likely to be living with other men’s children whilst their own grow up elsewhere. Due to the fact that the majority of children stay with their mother following a divorce or separation, most stepfamilies have a stepfather as opposed to a stepmother.
Blended families can be complex
Being part of a blended family brings its intricacies. Two people with differing parenting skills (one parent wants their children in bed by 8 pm, the other parent doesn’t mind if their children are in bed by 9 or 10 pm), and different ways of approaching life and living together can invite unnecessary tension.
Parents tend to be less flexible when it comes to another person’s children as well and this can cause issues too. If one parent is being more lenient and giving favours to their own children but not to their spouse’s kids this can cause conflict.
Life as a blended can be a minefield of errors, trials and tribulations. All too often I see blended families falling apart under the pressure of trying to live as one. What goes for one doesn’t go for another and there is an underlying level of tension that exists constantly. This kind of prolonged tension can cause even the sturdiest of relationships to break down.
How to be as effective as possible:
The most successful stepfamilies
are those that function as much as a unified unit as possible. The two adults need to maintain a united facade and communicate regularly about expectations. Discipline for all children should be the same and adults must make time for family issues to be discussed with everyone. They should also take regular time out for them to connect as a couple without the added tension of family life every now and then.
Work towards the good of the whole family, rather than trying to keep score of individual misdemeanours.
Positive effective behaviour works towards the positive long term outcomes rather than magnifying each and every event that does not fulfil existing expectations of how the family ‘should’ be together.
Let go of minor issues and live with the intention of creating as much freedom for eveyone in the house, yet within certain boundariess. This is the most effective parenting style – authoritative NOT authoritarian.
Learn to pick your battles and nurture a happy, relaxed, welcoming home that everyone feels happy to return to at the end of each day.
Living in a stepfamily can be excruciatingly stressful and finding ways to cope is essential for your sanity. You seem to be a very principled person with strong morals. These are wonderful traits but they may not be working for you in your current situation. Learn to let some issues slide. You mentioned that you are the one who highlights issues and it would do you wonders if you could learn to tune out from certain household events. Ask yourself what can I tell myself about this situation so that it bothers me less?
Don’t allow guilt to lead you..be a bit more selfish. Pick your battles and try to tune out from the less important ones. Watch your thoughts and don’t let your thinking exacerbate situations. Act dumb and focus more on your own fulfilment and happiness (and your sons).
Having a heart to heart chat with your husband is also a good idea. Highlight the three most important things that you could do for each other to improve each other’s quality of life and try to stick to these on a daily basis.
If you still love him it is worth trying to work at it. If, however, you feel that you have really had enough it is better to get out. Your son isn’t happy either and an unhappy home environment that drags on endlessly can cause long-term damage.