Eyes Wide Open: Realistic Expectations for Your Family Blend by Shanna Gregor and Bobbie Rill

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Eyes Wide Open: Realistic Expectations for Your Family Blend
Series: Blended Families (Part 2)
Shanna D. Gregor and Bobbie Rill

Realistic perceptions can empower you for success. Stepfamilies can be very stressful, but they also bring great rewards. When you go into your marriage with your eyes open and you can avoid some of the stumbling blocks most stepfamilies face.

The first step in building a strong family is to gain a realistic picture of what life with your new family holds for you. Unrealistic expectations produce disappointment in any relationship. Common misconceptions can discourage family bonding. Understanding the misconceptions and realities can help you appreciate what is normal for family blending and give you reasonable expectations for family life.

  • One-third of the weddings that take place in America today form step-families.[1]
  • 46% of remarried couples—a remarriage for one or both spouses) already have a child under 18 years of age living in the home.[2]
  • “When a parent(s) later marry (forming a stepfamily) and divorce again, the negative effects of parents’ marital transitions are cumulative.[3]
  • The well-being of children goes down as the number of marital transitions go up.

It isn’t our desire to dishearten you with all this information, but instead, equip you for success.

In our national survey, Ron Deal and David Olson, PhD., the following to be the top three expected stumbling blocks for couples related to children and stepfamily stress: 

  • 78% expected difficulties specific to stepfamily issues;
  • 75% anticipated that children would put a strain on their marriage;
  • 72% believed creating a stepfamily would stress their marriage.[4]

It’s important to alleviating conflict, confusion and chaos from the very beginning. Expectations each family member has play a huge part in the outcome of a successful new family. If some pictures of what the new family will look like are not clearly displayed in advance, some type of image is going to appear in the minds of most family members. When the image isn’t close to the expectation, disappointment can prove disastrous.

Some of the questions we hope to answer through the course of this series that can help you achieve your dream for a great family blend include:

1) How do we prepare for successful family blending?

2) What does a successful blend look like?

3) How do we establish realistic expectations?

4) How do we communicate effectively without emotional drama or fallout?

For example, let’s say each child expects to have their own room in the new blended home. When move in day comes, the children find they are sharing a room. The disappointment can wound the child’s heart, allow for walls of division to go up between the parent, stepparent o ...

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