More people in blended family status

admin | 5/17/2012, 6:40 a.m.

According to popular portrayals, the American family is a small unit that consists of a married husband and wife who have at least one biological daughter and one biological son. However that ideal is not the way many U.S. households are now living. According to a Pew Research Center survey, more than 40 percents of adults have either a stepchild, a step or half sibling or a stepparent. Among Blacks, at least 60 percent have at least one step relative. Blended families are very common in todays world, explained Miami-based marriage and family therapist Rafiah H. Prince. This can be attributed to high divorce rate, separations, and people being open to finding love again. According to the Step Family Association, one of the most important facts step-families must accept is that they must not try to impose expectations and the dynamics of the intact or [nuclear] family onto the step family. Each blended family member will has their own histories and behaviors and each will thus act and respond in their own way. Having an idealized fantasy of how a parent or child believes their families should behave puts unnecessary pressure on individuals. We all want the storybook ending where everyone lives happily ever after. [But] be mindful that it may take time, Prince said. All the love and hard work will pay off, but be aware that there will be challenges. Step families also face difficulties caused by not planning enough, poor communication and just moving too soon. Black blended families often have their own particular issues and concerns. Many Black families have estranged fathers, so when male figures enter the home and assume the role of Dad, there need to be clear definitions around what that means, explained Prince. The children have to adjust to the new roles in the home. Above all, Prince recommends that open communication is the best tool for blended families. It is important that all members be able to express their concerns and feel validated, she said. In addition, remember that for all members of the family that this is a change and with change you have to allow for adjustments. To ease some of the tensions that blended families face, Prince recommends that they attend family therapy sessions, visit www.blended-families.com or even just read Smart Stepfamily: The Seven Steps to a Healthy Family by Ron Deal. By Kaila Heardkheard@miamitimesonline.com