Divorce presents a challenging situation for the parties involved and the children. The divorce process is a tedious process involving filing the divorce petition, requesting temporary court orders, filing proof of services, negotiating a settlement, court trial, and final judgment. After finalizing the divorce process, parents who have sole legal custody of the child can re-marry a partner with a child from the previous relationship forming a blended family. Blended families undergo difficult moments during the transition process. A personal interview of a blended family offers reliable data essential in analyzing the functioning of the family.
The interview was with both partners of the blended family; the race of Mr. and Mrs. Bryson is both white while the age of parents is 40 and 45 years respectively. Mrs. Catherine was married for 12 years to a Hispanic husband, Miguel Nicolás, and stayed single for seven years before meeting her husband, Mr. Bryson. The two couples are in the second year of their marriage. The husband, Mr. Bryson, does not have any children, while Mrs. Catherine has one child from a previous relationship. The male child is aged 12 years and was only 3 years old when his mother divorced Mr. Nicolás. Catherine states that she has an undergraduate degree while her current husband is a holder of a Master’s degree. The level of education defines the social status of a particular family as it shows the level of poverty for the family. The parents within the family are educated and therefore can manage to meet the family’s different needs. They can send their son to a good school and afford quality housing, therefore, managing a healthy environment to thrive.
Catherine states that entering into marriage to form a blended family is challenging as both parents and the child have to adapt to the new reality. According to Kumar’s (2017) literature, around 40 percent of adults in the US have a family member with whom they are not biologically related. One of the most challenging issues for Catherine was getting his son Rodrigo to accept the newly introduced stepfather. Mr. Bryson indicates that one of the most challenging aspects of the marriage is building a relationship with his stepson. Mr. Bryson indicates that initially, it was difficult raising the stepchild. He states that initially, he felt excluded and confused about the parenting style to adopt. The stepfather felt that he found it difficult to determine whether to employ an authoritarian style, be permissive, or be authoritative. The boundaries between a stepparent and a child play a significant role in building relationships in the family. One of the best parenting initiatives stepfathers can employ includes practicing fathering as an identity and activity.
The couple indicated the presence of family stress when they started living together. Prevalence of lack of a shared experience or history during the child’s early developmental years and perhaps lack of blood ties are common issues affecting blended families. When children enter a blended family, they often experience a sense of loss as they tend to compare their experiences with those of the past family when it was stable. When the roles of the stepparent and stepchild are not clearly defined in the blended family, behavioral change is likely to result among the children. When a blended family lacks cohesion, the situation could further lead to engagement in criminal behavior for the child, causing stress to the family. One of the leading reasons for a bad relationship between the stepparents and children is a poor relationship between the child and the biological parents. In a situation where the relationship is positive, stepchildren tend to have a positive relationship with the stepparent, thereby eradicating the prevalence of family stress.
Catherine indicates that a blended family calls for understanding, efficient communication, and love. Both couples have undertaken crucial steps towards improving their communication by developing a strategy to address issues or challenges that affect their family. Some of the strategies essential for improving family communication include: Respectfully listening to each other, finding an appropriate time to communicate, constructive expression of one’s feelings, and visiting a marriage counselor when communication was not better. Using a marriage counselor is essential as it aids the couple in engaging in self-disclosure. Self-disclosure entails telling a private partner information about oneself that they would not otherwise know. This practice helps create understanding and trust within the family.
The presence of wall crucifixes on the walls of their home indicates a strong religious faith in the family. Catherine feels that faith plays a significant role in building relationships; she first met her current husband while at church. She explains that after church, his son would spend time with Bryson at a local park or invite Bryson over for dinner. Catherine indicates she would pray to God to grant her a good man for her family. She has faith that God answered her prayers by bringing Bryson into their lives. The majority of Americans consider marrying within their religious faith. For the years stretching from 2010 to 2014, 61% of Americans married couples with the same religious faith (Seccombe, 2018). The support and guidance offered through the church are crucial in getting the weight off their shoulders, making it easier for couples in blended families to transition into the new marriage.
Catherine is a preschool teacher at a local school; her husband is a senior accountant at a local firm. This information is crucial in defining the work of each couple. Catherine feels that her husband has been resourceful in financially supporting her and the child. Single parents struggle to meet most of the bills and adequately care for their children. The wife admits that the presence of Bryson in their lives changed everything. She states that currently, her husband meets most of their daily needs. Working husbands bring stability and structure to the family; the involvement of the stepfathers in children is low due to spending less time together. This aspect explains the relationship between Rodrigo and Bryson. Catherine feels that her son currently appreciates her husband; though he calls him by his first name, he introduces him as his stepdad.
Catherine states that her husband has made a substantial contribution to the family’s decision-making process. She feels that her husband controls the family by making key decisions. The resource theory explains the degree of power exercised by Bryson. According to the resource theory, the spouse with the more paying job can influence more power in the family and thereby shape the decisions within the family. Catherine believes that her husband enjoys a greater intimate partner power, enabling him to make key decisions and give the family direction and structure. She feels her husband deserves this kind of power as he is the head of the family.
During the interview, Mr. Bryson would sometimes hold Catherine’s hands. This kind of non-verbal cue indicates affection and empathy among the couple. Love within the family is also evident when the son returns from school and hugs his parents. The couple expresses a strong desire to promote the well-being of one another. The stepdad indicates that he is committed to enhancing the family’s well-being. Catherine feels that care, loyalty, and desire to be close to each other have been essential in enhancing love in the relationship. Sternberg’s triangular theory of love indicates that love bears three aspects; commitment, passion, and intimacy. The family’s relationship conforms to the perspectives of love outlined in the Sternberg triangular love theory. Mr. and Mrs. Bryson’s blended family can be defined as a progressively functioning family with a clear role assignment, good decision-making, intimacy, and reliable problem-solving techniques.
Seccombe, K. (2018). Exploring marriages & families (3rd ed.). Pearson.
Kumar, K. (2017). The blended family life cycle. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 58(2), 110–125. Web.