Reading time: 5 minutes
Suitable for: Families with children of all ages
Describe a typical family. If you were asked this, what would you say? Mum, dad, two children and perhaps a pet dog thrown in for good measure?
The truth is, there’s no such thing as a typical family. Families come in all shapes and sizes – families with two parents, single-parent families, adoptive families, multi-generational families, foster families and blended families, to name but a few.
The phrase, ‘blended family’ is comparatively new, so what does it mean and what kind of family does it describe?
The rise of the blended family
The official definition is, ‘a family consisting of a couple, the children they have had together, and their children from previous relationships.’
Children involved may split their time between their blended family’s home and their biological parent’s home, depending on any relevant custody arrangements.
This family structure has become much more common over the last few years and is fast replacing the nuclear family as the most common household structure in the UK. With almost one in three marriages ending in divorce, it’s estimated that approximately a third of families would describe themselves as blended.
Goodbye step-family, hello blended family
‘Blended family’ is perhaps a welcome change from the phrase ‘step-family’, which has never quite managed to shake off somewhat negative connotations (wicked stepmother, anyone?). In fact, it’s also sometimes referred to as a ‘bonus family’ which has a wonderfully positive ring to it. Language matters, and these words and phrases help remove any stigma for children, if and when their family situation changes.
There are many reasons behind this trend: separation, divorce and death of a parent, for example. In response to these ever-more-common events, family structures have become much more fluid, with many parents deciding to do what works best for them, free from the shackles of tradition and convention.
However, despite blended families being much more common, any parent who finds themselves in this position knows that living happily under one roof with children from previous relationships can be difficult.