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Navigating your way through a blended family

6 Jun 2018 FAMILY

By Motlagae Konyana

There is a large percentage of couples that enter into new relationships and marriages already having children from past relationships.  Hence blended families are on the rise in South Africa. Statistics South Africa reported that in 2016, 13 922 (55,0%) of the 25 326 divorces involved people with children younger than 18 years. Meaning there are higher chances of parents remarrying with children who are still very young and adapting to the new family dynamics may be difficult.

When you are remarrying, it doesn’t mean that it’s going to be easier because you have been married before.  When a couple comes together and they both have children outside of their relationship – that changes the dynamics of the relationship and may cause pain. This requires emotionally support from both families and each other.  There is a high percentage of second marriages that fail – this is often due to the pressures and challenges newly married couples face when bringing two, already established families together. As the two families may want different things for the new family and the newly married couple may also want different traditions for their new household. When it comes to second marriages and bringing families together, difficulties between the stepparents and stepchildren usually spill over into the romantic relationship and make it even more difficult.  The newly married couple or those living together tend to focus on their romantic relationship and it becomes easy for them to neglect the their childrens’ acceptance and expectation as a new parent entering their lives.

In our African culture it is common to grow up with your aunt’s children or your uncle’s children who become part of the family, it gets complicated when the child is from your partner’s previous relationship. You often neglected to focus on your new role of parenting your partner’s child as you assume that it is as easy as it was when your parents took in your aunts’ children,  forgetting that the dynamics are different.

When you are taking a parental role for the first time with your partner’s child/ren ensure that your partner and child/ren spend time together without you feeling jealous.  Always remember that your partners relationship with their child existed long before you and will continue to exist just embrace and encourage the relationship.  When you are a part of a blended family, chances are you’ve already spent time as a single parent where your children came first. Switching up the order and allowing your partner’s children to also have your time is tough and can causes hurt feelings. Hence you and your partner should always ensure that you communicate and always remember why you are together in the first place.

Read more about learning to co-parent with your Ex:

Family is everything. It’s very important and the best part is, because there are no straightforward and exact answers for remarriages or step parenting, no one gets to tell you you’re wrong and it’s worth the ride. Just continue being the best parent you know how.






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