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"Blended" families face obstacles.

Two common mistakes can prevent success in blended families, argues Robert Billingham, associate professor of human development and family studies at Indiana University, Bloomington. The first is remarrying too soon after a death or divorce, and the second is trying to move the new spouse into the role of father or mother.

"Children have many issues to deal with after the loss of a parent, and the introduction of another adult into that role before the children can deal with their issues forces [them] to either resist the new person or repress their issues," explains Billingham. "What people must remember is that the new spouse is not the child's father or mother, They are the parent's spouse. Often, the new parson tries to become the child's father or mother, and this frequently has disastrous results."

When blended families fail, he indicates, the offspring sometimes believe that relationships and families don't work. "These children then enter future relationships with an expectation of failure. So when problems occur, which will happen, they see this as failure and leave too soon rather than trying to work things out."

Billingham, who is in a blended family himself, suggests there is no magic timetable for success. "Some families work hard and adjust quickly, and others ere doomed from the start. There is no way to predict success, but I always recommend that people speak with a certified marriage and family therapist, not for therapy, but for insight on problems to expect and ways to deal with them."
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Title Annotation:family therapy important in learning how to deal with problems; Your Life
Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2003
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