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Making Blended Families Better

    Blended family and community

    by Stephanie Chambers

    New research on blended families

    With the high rates of divorce, blended families have become a common phenomenon in modern society today. But how can parents and children in these families make them work?

    Oliver Bailey’s studies# “shed light on the typical communication practices” between half siblings in blended families that the children reported as being a success. He says, “In the U.S., nearly 42 percent of the population is a part of a step or blended family structure (Parker, 2011).” “Blended family researchers argue that half sibling relationships are negatively impacted by complex family subsystems, unclear boundary structures, and unmet role expectations.”

    His studies found that there are 23 behaviors which help maintain the success of the relationship between the siblings in the blended families. These behaviors included such things as “joint activities, openness, and parental intervention”. Other things such as an “awareness of maturity” and receiving help from mentors were also identified as being a positive contribution.

    Other research has also shown that having supportive friends can also help children and teens to survive the effects of divorce.

    How can you integrate these findings into your own blended family?

    Talk to your family therapist at Midwest Counseling about how you can encourage your children to do things together and to communicate in a more open way with one another.

    Try and find mentors that can help your children by being someone outside the family that they can turn to for advice or by just being a sounding board. You need to realize that you don’t have to do it all alone and that others can help.

    Learn the best way as a parent to intervene when there are arguments or disputes. Your counselor can give you tips on communication rules that you can set in place to make sure that everyone gets a chance to present their views and so that everyone feels they are in a non-judgmental environment.


    # Blended Family Resilience: Communication Practices in Positive Adult Half Sibling Relationships by Oliver, Bailey M. Arizona State University, ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 2018. 10784375.