What Teachers Should Know about Blended Families

A Fact Sheet by Jessica Jimenez-Garay, November 2011

  • Teachers should be aware that in the 21st century, there are greater numbers of families who consist of stepfamilies. Therefore, use of language such as, “real mother,” “natural father,” and “broken home,” should not be used at all, especially in front of the class. This could create hurt feelings or even a target for bullies. (PhD, B.H.)
  • Teachers and administrators should encourage guardians to notify them when changes occur. There should an open communication between all involved, including the student. (PhD, B.H.)
  • Teachers, faculty, and administrators should educate themselves of blended family issues and strive to effectively assist students facing those issues. (PhD, B.H.)
  • Teachers should integrate discussing all types of families into diversity lessons, so that other students will become understanding of their peers who live in blended families. (PhD, B.H.)
  • Teachers, faculty, and administrators should identify area support for further assistance for those students and their families, if help is needed beyond their means. (PhD, B.H.)
  • Different Scenarios of blended families include but not limited to: (1) Man with children marries woman who has never married and has no kids, (2) Woman with children marries man who has never been married and has no kids, (3) Divorced mom marries divorced dad, (4) Widow or widower with kids remarries. (Gillespie, N. N., 2004)
  • Scenario (1) and (2): Students may despise their step parent and may build frustration towards both parents. This student may need an outlet of some sort, if conduct is affected in class, then student may need some one on one attention from teacher or counselor. (Gillespie, N. N., 2004)
  • Scenario (3): Students may experience same feelings as in scenario (1) and (2), but because there are step siblings involved, more tension is created. (Gillespie, N. N., 2004)
  • Scenario (4): Students grieving the loss of a parent is already difficult. With a step parent involved, students may feel the loss of their parent may be overshadowed with the presence of the step parent. (Gillespie, N. N., 2004)
  • “Approximately 1/3 of all weddings in America today form stepfamilies.” (Gillespie, N. N., 2004)
  • “Given the right support, kids should gradually adjust to the prospect of marriage and being part of a new family.” (M.A., G. K., PhD, J. S., & Robinson, L., October 2011)
  • Teachers, faculty, and administrators should strive to meet the needs and security and give time for students to make a successful transition. (M.A., G. K., PhD, J. S., & Robinson, L., October 2011)
  • Children want to feel safe and secure, loved, seen and valued, heard and emotionally connected, appreciated and encouraged, and want limits and boundaries. A teacher in this circumstance, should in ways try to assist the students in having their needs met in this difficult time. (M.A., G. K., PhD, J. S., & Robinson, L., October 2011)
  • Young children under 10 may adjust more easily due to their need of affection and their capabilities to accept the new parent. (M.A., G. K., PhD, J. S., & Robinson, L., October 2011)
  • Adolescents aged 10-14 may have the most difficulty transitioning because of their biological changes. (M.A., G. K., PhD, J. S., & Robinson, L., October 2011)
  • Teenagers 15 or older may have less involvement in stepfamily life, and prefer to separate from the family as they form they own identities, while at the same time wanting to feel important. (M.A., G. K., PhD, J. S., & Robinson, L., October 2011)
  • Gender Differences – general tendencies: Both boys and girls in stepfamilies tend to prefer verbal affection, such as praises and compliments. Boys tend to be more accepting to stepfathers than girls. (M.A., G. K., PhD, J. S., & Robinson, L., October 2011

References

Gillespie, N. N. (2004). Blended Families – Focus on the Family. Focus on the Family: Helping Families Thrive. Retrieved November 15, 2011, from http://www.focusonthefamily.com/lifechallenges/relationship_challenges/blended_families.aspxPhD, B. H. (n.d.). Understanding and Working with Students in Stepfamilies. Utah State Office of Education – USOE – Welcome. Retrieved November 15, 2011, from http://www.schools.utah.gov/cte/documents/facs/conference/S06/MP_Higginbotham_StepFamily.pdf

M.A., G. K., Ph.D., J. S., & Robinson, L. (October 2011). Guide to Step-parenting and Blended Families: How to Bond with Stepchildren and Deal with Stepfamily Problems. Helpguide.org: Expert, ad-free articles help empower you with knowledge, support & hope.. Retrieved November 15, 2011, from http://www.helpguide.org/mental/blended_families_stepfamilies.htm

Jessica Jimenez-Garay is a full-time student at the University of Houston-Victoria. She is projected to graduate May 2013 with a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies, EC-6. Jessica was recently inducted into the first class of members of Alpha Zeta Lambda and is also an active member of Gamma Beta Phi honor society. Along with being an active education student, Jessica is also a mother of two wonderful toddlers and married to her high school sweetheart. When she is not working on assignments, projects, and service, Jessica loves spending time with my family. “As long a we are together, we are have the time of our lives. On a professional level, I can not wait to have my own classroom where I hope to be making a difference in our future leaders!”

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