Disciplining Children in Blended Families

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION from Florida Jewish News, September 2, 2005, p. 21, 23, 27 I never liked the term, “Blended families.” It reminded me of cake batter—sweet, maybe fun to snack on when no one was looking, but, frankly, not yet a cake. After all, which is better, the batter or the done cake? That term has the same uncomfortable feeling as “Reconstituted families.” Something like “reconstituted orange juice”—not quite the real thing. Yet, it doesn’t have to be that way. There is a place for divorce. After trying to reconcile, trying to make amends, trying everything, the bottom line is that if the couple cannot get along, if there is neglect, abuse, or drug use, and counseling has been tried–with a highly qualified marriage and family therapist and it didn’t accomplish its goal, then divorce is an option. And when that option is selected, the individuals, once a couple, should be able to go their separate ways with their heads held high. They should not be condemned or looked down upon for choices that they could not help making. We, after all, don’t know what went on behind closed doors. Assuming the divorce goes fairly smoothly, the individuals are not ostracized, and they eventually remarry, the most critical question is: What approach to the children will assure their best emotional and spiritual health? Or, in other words, what can you, the parents, do to assure that your new family will be unique, special, and wonderful for your child? That it will not be a mere blend, but a delicious cake? Not something reconstituted, but a tasty original? Here...
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