The 21st century has brought us many things and one those is the reconstituted family.
Though it might seem convoluted, initially, on closer examination you will note that it is simply a more sociological term for a blended family.
These types of family structures are flourishing across societies as the divorce rates escalate and couples remarry.
Define Blended Family
When we think about what is a blended family, we have a picture of a mother or father entering a new marriage with a child or children.
Today, there are different terms used to identify this reconstituted family type. This includes:
- Blended Family
- Step Family
- Mixed Family
- Complex Family
In a fundamental way, a blended or mixed family is a family unit that has biological and non-biological parents. One person brings in kids who were conceived in a different relationship.
Nevertheless, these types of families have grown progressively more common.
Therefore, how we define a blended family is continually changing. Recognizing the essential elements of a mixed family unit is imperative to the maintenance and strengthening of that unit.
In a blended family, it is not always typical that the male and female procreate and have children, which are biologically and jointly theirs.
However, traditionally in this family type they are married and come together in a union after being separated, divorced or widowed from a previous marriage. Although, in today’s world, those adults might not be married but live in a cohabiting relationship under one roof, with no wedding ceremony to distinguish their relationship. But they are still a family.
Sometimes, the stepparent will adopt their spouse’s children and recognize them as their own under the laws.
For this to happen, if the other biological parent is alive, they must give consent.
This permits that person to make next of kin type decisions, which relate to emergency medical care. Also, if that union ceases to exist, they will also have continued parental and fiscal responsibility for this child/children.
The Complexity of the Modern Reconstituted Family
Though the idea of a stepfamily existed for many generations, lots of reconstituted families did not get legal recognition pending the marriage of both adults.
Along with both of them deciding to raise, take care of and address every possible need of the children together. This is done regardless of whether either of them was not the biological parent.
It is now more accepted even if the adults are just cohabiting.
This more blasé way of having a family can result in complications. Especially when it comes to complex issues such as medical decisions, and child support.
But those are not the only ones.
For example, one child may come into that family home used to being a younger child, however, the union brings forth a newborn, and that child takes the position.
Or if an older sibling for one parent has to adjust to being the middle child.
Another complication has to do with differing values. Or even family roles.
One parent might be used to being the sole breadwinner and disciplinarian. In a reconstituted family, they have to adjust and take another person’s perspective into consideration when taking care of and disciplining their child.
Family roles will also change when it comes to the completion of chores.
There is a lot of behavior modification at the formation of a reconstituted family.
Societal propriety issues might also develop with those parents who are non-involved. This is where the term “baby momma” and “baby daddy drama” comes into play.
Understandably, a biological parent will feel threatened or jealous by someone else who is having a parental relationship with their child.
It is a real phenomenon and can cause problems for the new blended family unit.
Pressure on the birth parents for them to try to balance their children’s needs and maintain a relationship with their spouse, is also another issue that must be considered.
Because usually couples would have a “honeymoon period” after getting married or moving in together.
Families generally work through these complications.
They mature into a healthy, functional unit that meets the needs of all parties involved. And there are many resources to help reconstituted families that are struggling to resolve these issues.
These include website resources, psychologists or counselors, books and various programs and parenting workshops.
The Prevalence of Reconstituted Families
Mixed and blended families are commonplace in the 21st century. They are increasing and overtaking more traditional family forms.
Higher rates of divorce, people choosing to cohabit and single parent units are ever evolving into a reconstituted family form. When we examine the family landscape across America, we will also notice this development, statistically rising across every ethnic group.
Death, divorce, separation, cohabitation and marriage are all causative agents of the reconstituted family.