Blended Families: How Children Are Affected by Divorce

We’ve talked about blended families, as a team sport and the unique challenges blended families face as they try and bring two families together.  One consideration that needs to be made, is how all children in a blended family are affected by the divorce of their parents.   These affects can linger years, even decades, after a child’s parents divorce–blended families often feel the rippling affects.

How Divorce Affects Children

Adults in a blended family, must understand the issues that arise when children are affected by divorce and then, in turn, affected by re-marriage and a new family structure.  Knowledge is power for parents and can help you spot opportunities to be proactive in dealing with issues that will arise.

A Shattered World

When parents divorce, the whole world that children have come to depend on is shattered. Children become fearful—not knowing what will become of them and the world that they’ve known. And because they’re children with vivid imaginations, they can create in their minds horrible outcomes which they don’t express.

This fear and picture of a shattered world will likely be brought into your blended family.  This hightened level of fear can translate into insecurity, “lashing out,” anger issues and much more.

Fear Turns to Insecurity

The fear that children experience makes them feel extremely uncertain and insecure. In spite of their parents attempt to offer reassurance that they are going to be okay, it usually has little effect because divorce impacts children emotionally. While the parents must deal with the emotional impact of divorce, imagine what it must be like for children.

This issue is compounded when the dream a child had for their own family, becomes a much more complex picture with a blended family.  This new family brings new adults, possibly new children and other family members–giving children of divorce a sense of being overwhelmed and insecure.

The Blame Game

Children often blame themselves for their parent’s divorce.  Children, like adults, need to make sense out of traumatic, painful experiences. Children are affected by divorce because they have a need to know why their parents are divorcing. So they conclude, incorrectly, that it’s their fault. They might think, “if only” I had put my toys away, cleaned up my room, gotten better grades, did what my parents told me to do, etc., etc., then my parents wouldn’t be divorcing.

When a new family is being created, blame can also be pointed at the other children, the new spouse(s) and others who are seen as destructive to their fantasy family.

Come Together for the Kids

Children, in different ways, will experience different issues in response to divorce and becoming a blended family.  It’s important for all the adults in the new family to band together, for the good of the children and recognize issues will arise.  You can not avoid them and you should not ignore them.

Early intervention and proactive planning can help mitigate the challenges you’ll face and bring the entire family together by heading off these problems.  In some cases, you’ll want to bring in the professional help of counselors and/or your local church or pastor.  Remember, blended families are a team sport–all members of your new team are an important asset.

Love freely and live purposefully!

Jesse ♥ Melva

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Blended Families: A Team Sport

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