What's Trending? Blending Separately
Trending on today's blogs and divorce sites is the term "blended family." The idea is as it sounds: two families of parents and children blend together to form a larger family unit. A blended step-family can be traditional too, like that 90's tv show "Step By Step" with Suzanne Somers. I read this article ("How Long Does It Take To Unite a Stepfamily?") about an interesting situation where the family could not work together in the same household and ended up living separately -- and it worked beautifully. Obviously this isn't an option for everyone, but the fact that the family made it work was truly an inspiration.
Those of us who remember the trouble the Lamberts faced on Friday nights in the TGIF lineup, or have dealt with this in real life, know it can often be dramatic. Blending families is always going to be a challenge for parents. Different personalities, different parenting styles, ex-spouses, the list goes on and on as to why blending a family is incredibly stressful and problematic. One of the best pieces of advice from this article is this: let each parent handle the parenting of his/her own child and let the step-parent be the "good cop," so to speak. Children are well aware of who their parent is and who their parent is not, and they may have a negative reaction to a step-parent trying to discipline them. That will only lead to resentment and eventually withdrawal, and may further complicate the relationship between the parents as spouses.
Sometimes the traditional method is the path for you and your family. Sometimes it isn't. Consult therapists, talk to each other, and find what is right to make a healthy, successful family that lasts through the years.