As the divorce rate continues to surge, the rate of blended families continues to surge as well. It is estimated that 75 percent of divorcees will remarry. Of those who decide to remarry, almost 43 percent involve children from a previous marriage, therefore creating trends for a blended family.
A blended family can face many problems which include conflicts between step siblings, children, step parents, non-custodial parents, and even between the parents. The problem is present because often each person either externally or internally involved in a blended family will have different values regarding how the family should operate. The parents must begin with determining how to best operate internally and then consider the external relationships.
The reason that the parents must begin with the internal values is because without this beginning these parents are on the verge on becoming divorced. The internal parents should first consider a shared vision.
A shared vision is the answer to the question, “What do we want to create?” ” A shared vision is a picture that everyone in the family carries in their heads and hearts. With a shared vision the husband and wife have a common destination and a common picture. Thus, they have laid the foundation to work to together as a team to remain successfully married.
Teamwork in a marriage is a necessary aspect to the success of a marriage. Teamwork is the collaborative effort of a team to achieve a common goal or to complete a task in the most effective and efficient way. This concept is seen within the greater framework of a team, which is a group of interdependent individuals who work together towards a common goal. Successful teamwork in a family begins with developing a shared vision.
The first step is developing a family shared vision is for the husband and wife in the blended family to write down their top ten marriage values, why that value is important, and a scripture that pertains to that value. After sharing these values and their importance the couple will need to narrow the values to three values that they can agree on. Once they have agreed on three values, they will develop the shared vision. One shared vision starter is as follows:
Our Vision is to ____________ (Value 1), ____________ (Value 2), _________ (Value 3) …
After the shared vision development, the blended family needs to work on developing a family strategic plan. This portion of the process will include the step parents, parents, step children, children, and any other family members that will impact the blended family. Ask each family member to write down ten goals for the family and why they are important.
The blended family husband and wife are to become the facilitators of this process. Bringing the family together to solve problems, create plans, and make decisions related to the blended family requires both a powerful and essential form of leadership. Facilitate means “to make easy.” As a facilitator, the job of the husband and wife is to make the process easier for the family. As a facilitator you will manage the process, rather than the goals. Facilitators are concerned with how decisions are made instead of what decisions are reached.
Other facilitator responsibilities include:
- Remaining neutral
- Listening actively and asking others to do the same
- Encouraging different points of view
- Intervene if the discussion starts to fragment
- Preventing dominance and including everyone
- Summarize discussions and conversations
The blended family husband and wife will need to manage difficult family dynamics. The potential for challenging obstacles when facilitating the family goal making process are many and varied. They include personalities that may clash, aggressive or unacceptable behavior by one or several blended family members, and overly talkative family members who may even seek to gain control of conversations, which can disrupt the objectives and bring the process progress to a halt. No matter what the hurdle, the blended family facilitators should handle the problem with calm and be prepared to take a step away from the discourse momentarily to assess the situation and choose the best way to steer the meeting back on course.
The Blended family husband and wife will need to facilitate the consensus decision making process. A consensus decision is not a unanimous vote for an idea, majority vote, or achieving total satisfaction of all family members. It is an idea that every family member:
- Substantially agrees to represent a common reality
- Is involved in the fusion of the information, logic, and they have an opportunity to express their feelings
- Is willing to accept the groups decision
- Believes that the decision is a workable approach that is in the best interest of the team
Consensus is necessary to ensure that the blended family members have an opportunity to speak, to listen to each other, to build on each other’s ideas, and to reach well-considered conclusions that hold enough agreement to enable the whole group to move forward together for successfully developing blended family goals.
Dr. Derrick and Mrs. Sheila Campbell
PO Box 4707
Cherry Hill, NJ 08012
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- Leading Your Marriage into the Promised Land (Workbook for husbands & Wives)
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