The Blended Family: Advantages and Disadvantages

blended family advantages and disadvantages

The blended family. It sounds so perfect. After all, the Brady Bunch seemed pretty happy, didn’t they? What the iconic seventies sitcom never showed us was that Mrs. Brady almost assuredly got on the boys’ nerves, at times, and the girls probably wished they could spend some time alone with just their mom—without the rest of the clan. And, we would be willing to bet there were times when one of the girls said to their mother, “He can’t tell me what to do, he’s not even my real dad!” Get the picture? The blended family advantages and disadvantages are many.


We each understand the blended family. Katherine, a veteran divorce attorney has seen her clients blend families during and after divorce. She understands the impact that a blended family can have on a divorce case, and a post-divorce co-parenting relationship. Through Divorced Girl Smiling, Jackie has received emails from hundreds of those in blended families over the years, all asking for advice. Additionally, we are both part of blended families. Katherine got remarried with kids over 20 years ago, and her husband had children, as well (and then had another child for a total of 5). Jackie isn’t remarried but has had a significant other for 9 years and he’s certainly been part of the family.


The Blended Family: Advantages and Disadvantages


What’s so wonderful about a blended family is the word family. Many people who get divorced mourn the loss of their “family.” Holiday traditions, Sunday dinners, movie nights, and family vacations all seem gone, and they feel they will never have these family traditions again. So, when they meet someone and fall in love, they view the blended family as a chance for a do-over; a family but this time with the right person.


While it makes us both happy to see people with such love and happiness, so many become disillusioned when blending a family because their excitement and the newness of the new family clouds the reality that guess what? Families are hard! And, they’re even harder when the kids aren’t technically your kids! Add in former spouses that might fuel the fire, at times and things can get rough. That doesn’t mean you’re going to be miserable in a blended family. It just means that if you are realistic in your expectations and plan it carefully instead of expecting everything to be perfect, the transition from single parent to blended family will be so much smoother and easier.


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We have some blended family tips:


1. Have realistic expectations and an open mind. The kids probably aren’t going to embrace the new arrangement quickly but they will adjust and ultimately be a family.
2. Keep lines of communication with your new spouse WIDE open. The hardest thing is when it feels like one spouse is criticizing the other’s children and believe us, you will feel like criticizing at times.
3. Keep lines of communication with your kids WIDE open. Invite them to tell you the good, the bad and the ugly and don’t try to change their minds (and tell them you love them A LOT).
4. Keep lines of communication with his/her kids WIDE open. Think of yourself as an uncle or an aunt.  The step parenting relationship can be an incredible gift or a nightmare, its up to you.
5. Don’t take things personally. This is hard but remember that it’s an adjustment for everyone.
6. Plan date nights with your new spouse. You are going to need the time off.
7. Plan nights out with just your kids.
8. Plan nights out with the whole family and make them fun.
9. Try to remember how all the kids might be feeling.
10. Give your spouse’s kids space. Don’t try to be their new mother/father.
11. Remember that your step kids are not your kids but they are part of your family.
12. Think about each family’s rules ahead of time — for example, if bedtime for one set of kids is 8 and the other is 11, what will you do about that?
13. Create bonding opportunities for each family with the other — maybe pair them up for chores or a fun activity or sport.


Families come in all shapes and sizes and a blended family can be just as loving, fun and bonded as a traditional nuclear family.  In our experience, it takes a lot of planning, thinking, experimenting (and forgiving) but what family doesn’t?


Like this article? Check out “5 Signs a Marriage Cannot be Saved”

Katherine Miller

Katherine E. Miller is a Divorce Attorney, who is also a certified mediator and a trained collaborative divorce professional. In practice for over 30 years and personally divorced, Miller is the founder of the Miller Law Group, all women’s boutique law firm with seven divorce professionals. Miller is also the Director at the Center for Understanding in Conflict, the organization that teaches mediation, collaborative law and other conflict resolution skills, and she hosts the podcast and radio show, “Divorce Dialogues.” Additionally, Miller is the former president of the New York Association of Collaborative Professionals. She is a graduate of Vassar College and Fordham University school of Law. Learn more:

Jackie Pilossoph

Jackie Pilossoph is Founder of Divorced Girl Smiling, (DGS), the company that connects people facing divorce with trusted, vetted divorce professionals.  DGS is also a website, podcast and mobile app. Pilossoph also created and wrote the weekly dating and relationships advice column, “Love Essentially”, which was published in the Pioneer Press, The Chicago Tribune and all other Tribune Publishing publications for 6 1/2 years. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University, and spent time as a broadcast journalist at KTTC in Rochester, Minnesota, as well as several years writing feature stories for the Pioneer Press/Chicago Tribune. Additionally, Pilossoph was a Huffington Post blogger for 3 years.

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    One Response to “The Blended Family: Advantages and Disadvantages”

    1. Telkom University

      Blending families can be challenging, but these tips offer a roadmap for success. Communication and flexibility are key!


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