The American family is changing, expanding and adapting in many new ways. Assisted reproductive technology is making it possible for more individuals and couples to become parents than ever before. Meanwhile, divorce and remarriage continues to expand the American family to stepparents, stepchildren, as well as aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents who can effectively double a person’s extended family member count.
Bloomberg reports the number of adult children in America is boosted by 66 percent when adult stepchildren are added into the equation. Almost one-third of U.S. households headed by an adult under 55 has at least one stepparent present. And 33 percent of all couples over the age of 55 with adult children have a stepchild. These statistics all circle back to the same conclusion: the American family is growing. As with so many situations in life, increased numbers lead to an increased potential for conflict – and the need for the services of an Freehold family law attorney.
How Parents Sharing Joint Custody Can Proactively Address Family Conflicts
While new family members can increase the potential for conflict, they can also be a source of support for parents who are preparing for a new family dynamic. Parents who identify and address potential conflicts before they occur can help their children have a smoother transition into a new stepfamily.
One common area of dispute is holiday parenting time. When parents remarry, the holidays bring a new set of extended family members with whom to share the holidays. Holiday family time is important, and many parents are highly protective of the parenting time they have during the holidays. But it is important to be mindful of the child’s best interests in balancing the holiday needs of many family members. Extended family relationships are important to children, as well as their parental relationships. Even when it is difficult, parents should be supportive of their child’s relationships with their other parent and stepparent’s extended family members. Creativity and flexibility in scheduling can allow a child to spend holiday time with both parents, stepparents, and extended family members, but only if the parents are willing to be flexible to meet their child’s needs.
Another common cause of conflict for stepfamilies is the role the new stepparent will take in the child’s life. Many parents feel threatened by the presence of another adult figure in their child’s life. This can lead to conflict which makes a difficult transition for the new stepfamily. This conflict is not in the best interest of the child. It can be reduced by a parent showing his or her support of the new stepparent. Parents must also be willing to honestly address the fears and concerns with new stepparents. For some parents, family counseling can help address the new family dynamics presented by a stepparent’s presence. This can also help parents address the role the stepparent will play in the child’s life, and how it will differ from the protected role of the parent.
There are many challenges to the introduction of a stepparent and new extended family members. A Freehold child custody attorney can help parents, children and stepfamilies navigate the complicated issues involved with child custody in blended families.
If you are experiencing challenges with child custody issues, contact the Freehold child custody attorneys at Rozin-Golinder Law LLC by calling (732) 810-0034.
Additional Resources: Divorce is Making America Families 66% Bigger, by Ben Steverman, Bloomberg, December 18, 2017.
More Blog Entries: Navigating Holiday Parenting Time in New Jersey With Help From Child Custody Attorney, November 21, 2016, New Jersey Family Law Attorney Blog