How to prevent conflicts in mixed families

Diseases and conditions


  • Mixed families
  • Developmental stages of the joint family
  • Tips for preventing conflicts in mixed families

In mixed families where one or both members of the couple bring children from a previous relationship, cohabitation is often more difficult. Meet the suggestions of experts to avoid conflicts.
Written by Georgina Burgos, sexologist and author
Mixed families have to face great challenges to achieve the welfare of all members who join the new family.


A mixed family, also known as assembled or reconstituted, family is a family in which one or both members of the couple bring one or more children from a previous relationship. This is not trivial, since it converts to the new couple in step- parent of the children of his current partner, and these in stepchildren of a person which in many cases is an unknown and who have to coexist when solid affective ties have not yet been established.
This new family structure is different from the traditional nuclear family due to a series of characteristics that are themselves, as for example a most confused definition of the roles that members of the new mixed family, the fact that the expectations of your new partner are higher than had at first marriage the appearance of new types of conflicts in the relationship with the children and stepchildren — to integrate these into the new family structure, alternating with other structures family-, as well as establishing coalitions and specific partnerships, strengths and weaknesses, different to other forms of family life-causing.
Therefore, mixed families have to face great challenges to achieve the welfare of all members who join the new family. In general terms, there are two basic objectives to achieve this: build a solid and satisfactory relationship, and establish a good relationship between stepparents and stepchildren.


The evolution of mixed or reconstituted families goes through three phases or stages, which is important to differentiate.
In the initial stage, the couple begins their coexistence in a new home and have the illusion of a family where all members are integrated and interact harmoniously. They hope to integrate their children - and children that are still coming as a result the new relationship - in a satisfying way, and with a few emotional ties usually little realistic. That is why, during this first stage, reality makes manifest the desired ideal family is not a family that is being built and are feelings, both negative and positive, that a priori had not waited long. In the final phase of this stage is abandoned the dream of the ideal family and the couple understands that it has to analyze and modify the current family dynamics to improve the well-being of all.
In the intermediate stage family members face difficulties that already have been demonstrating and consolidating in the previous stage. At this stage it's negotiate and reach agreements to establish productive, constructive, and appropriate rules for the smooth running of the interpersonal relationship between the members of the new family structure. It is a stage in which you attempt to strengthen emotional ties in a consistent manner and with greater consistency than in the initial stage, which was marked, especially in the beginning, by an idealization of affective relations.
This stage is complex because, in general, none of the members of the new family has experience or prior learning of the resources needed to deal with conflicts and difficulties facing, since have not experienced a similar family situation before. Mutual respect, good communication, and large doses of patience to go driving feelings of jealousy, resentment, anxiety, confusion, and even immaturity, that arise along the new family life will be essential.
This intermediate stage lasts from four to six years, and is a great opportunity to strengthen the links between the family members and get a better integration of all.
In the final stage, if the couple has a solid relationship and appropriate affective ties, and a dynamic and satisfying family rules have been established, the family will reach a realistic balance and members will feel more United at the beginning. There will be therefore moved an illusion (or ideal) to a reality better consolidated and more satisfactory, adapted to the needs of all the members of the joint family.


In a general way and following the recommendations given Benokraitis, sociologist and Professor at the University of Texas, to facilitate a joint family to be successful, should take into account several aspects at the time of establishing the new dynamic family and its rules, and build the new emotional ties.
The basic tips of this sociologist and other experts in mixed families to achieve a good coexistence and prevention of conflicts among members of the new family are the following:
• Have realistic expectations.
• Understand that love must win it and that does not suddenly or for free.
• Be sensitive to the sadness of the children, and leave this to surface in the new couple, both own children since children feel great pain for the loss suffered as a result of separation or divorce of their parents, since it implies the loss of the family as they had been living since his birth , and this requires a process of mourning.
• Stimulate and strengthen the relationship to create a home environment that is stable, since it will reduce the anxiety of the children in the new family dynamics, as well as the tensions between the couple.
• Allow that the stepparent be integrated gradually, without haste, in the life of the sons and daughters from the previous marriage.
• Develop rituals themselves and adapted to the needs of the new life, which may require training, reflection and changes in patterns of behaviour that were part of the former nuclear family.
• Go giving authority with respect to the children member of the couple who is not the mother or the biological father.
• Provide each Member of the family their own space, even to children who live alternate weekends or sporadically.
• Be flexible and not expect a unique way to carry out the things, but on the contrary, open to the possibility of new horizons and new forms of interpersonal relationship among the members of the family, not to mention their circumstances. In short, build with all genuine way.
These are just a few recommendations, since they could be many more; in particular, applied to each particular case, since each family is a world and has its own peculiarities, interests and needs. However, tolerance, respect, flexibility, dialogue and affection, are key elements common to the welfare of all families, whether mixed or not.
The final recommendation that can be done, when you fail to build a balanced, successful, mixed family is the value the ability to search a family orientation of quality to face the difficulties and conflicts which we cannot resolve.Translated for educational purposes
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