With the current Divorce rate hovering around 50%, and with the average number of times these divorcees are marrying an average slightly above 2, both the adults and the children have to cope with the issues of being a blended family. As much as we would like to believe that all blended families get along and adjust to their new lives much like the Brady Kids, often times, this is not the case. It is unfortunate, but the statistics show that most of these blended family unions do not make it past the 5 year mark.
Besides the fact of different parents having different parenting styles other things come into play when parenting in a blended family. At times one parent may feel guilty for having put their children through a Divorce and may look to parent more loosely so to speak, or unknowingly the biological parent may favor his or her own children as compared to their step children. Whatever the issue may be, it is a definite cause for argument and dispute and often times eventually results in divorce or a break up.
Creating a Parenting Plan is an important part of the Divorce process, and when I am Mediating a Divorce, I put the Parenting Plan at the top of the agenda, before assets and other matters needing to be addressed in the Divorce and Mediation process. It is just as important to create a Parenting Plan when two families are coming together. It is crucial to establish the parental roles and guidelines in joining a blended family as the complications of joining two existing families brings to light unique issues, like planning for the holidays, education, extracurricular activities. A Mediator is skilled at facilitating discussions between all parties with objectivity and facilitation that encourages healthy dialogue which leads to the creation of a well thought out, fully disclosed and practical Parenting Plan.