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Life in a Blended or Step Family: Case Study

By: Sarah Edwards - Updated: 30 Nov 2012 | comments*Discuss
Life In A Blended Or Step Family: Case Study

When we think about step families, many of us may have a vision of The Brady Bunch-the cheesy American TV series from the seventies that featured a Mum and Dad and their children-from different parents.

Blended Families

Blended families are now very common and in any class in any school in the UK today you will find children who live with step brothers and sisters and step parents. Blended families happen for a variety of reasons, and in many cases parents can date for a considerable time before they actually decide to move in together and become step parents to each other’s children.

The Brady Bunch?

So what is life really like in a blended family today? Does it resemble the sickly sweet and near perfect image that we remember from The Brady Bunch, or is the reality a little different? Amy is now 17, and has lived with her brother and step brother and sister for the last five years since they all moved into a new house together.

Big Changes

Amy said: “Everyone is affected by the blending of two families. If you are all moving into a brand new house together then the change will be huge because you may well be moving to a new area and changing schools, colleges and jobs at the same time. Although change is a positive thing, children can find it hard to leave friends and places behind and start again, and they will need lots of support and reassurance that things will be OK.“Me and my brother found it really hard to start with, although we were excited too! Mum left us when we were quite little and it had just been me and James and Dad for as long as we could remember. We really liked Dad’s girlfriend and her kids too but moving in was a big step.”Fresh start

“Moving into a completely new house is a fresh start for everyone and it means that everyone starts from the same point. So although everything is new and different and possibly a bit scary and unsettling-it’s comforting to know that everyone is in the same situation and can support each other. We all felt a bit strange to begin with, but luckily our new house was big and we all had a bedroom to ourselves so we had space to do our own thing and escape from each other!”


Amy added: “If one family is moving in to another’s home it might be a very different story as this is already on a family’s territory. They may have lived in the same house for many years, and although the prospect of having step brothers and sisters might be exciting, it can also lead to problems and conflict.”“We were lucky that our parents made sure we all had enough space for our things, and that we could bring everything with us from our last life. That was really important.”

Space is Important

Amy added that when she spoke to her friends and family about the change in her family, they all supported her.She added: “Everyone was great and very positive but I was very scared! It is pretty unreasonable to expect children to have to suddenly give up their personal space to accommodate a new step brother or sister. They might appear to be fine about it and in time it might well work out and be a lot of fun, but parents should try not to put children under pressure. Remember this is a new and challenging time for all of you so try to make the transition from single parent family to blended family as stress free as possible by talking about any worries or concerns and working together to find a solution. We always talk about everything and have family meetings where we can discuss any problems.”

Friends and Family

Amy added: “Other points to consider include things like having friends round to play, and keeping up with hobbies, interests and outside school clubs that you have always been involved with. Life has to be fair for everyone, and although there has to be a certain level of acceptance and compromise, remember that overnight your life has changed and they will need support and love and help to cope with that change. It can be great living in a blended family and we have fun-we do argue and stuff as well, but I reckon that’s pretty normal!”

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