Living in a blended family -- one in which one or both parents have children from previous relationships -- has many benefits for the family members, including lessons in diversity, adaptability, self-reliance and relationship building in addition to a larger support base of relatives. According to 2009 data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 15.8 percent of all children under the age of 18 live in blended families.
Broader Range of Views and Values
Parents, and especially children, in blended families are exposed to a wider range of viewpoints, values and ideas. They experience new customs and traditions, such as new foods, religious observances, political values and ways to celebrate holidays or birthdays. The diversity provides a deeper understanding of the world around them.
Adaptability and Cooperation
Adults and children in blended families find ways to accommodate a variety of schedules, goals and interests that arise from different backgrounds. They must learn to be adaptable and flexible when managing daily or weekly responsibilities. To keep track of sports practices, music recitals and school projects, for example, a family might use a whiteboard or a family calendar. By ensuring that every family member feels like an important part of the team, a blended family will create an environment of love and respect.
Self-Reliance and Independence
Children in blended families learn to be independent and self-reliant. They might have suffered through a divorce, or one of their parents could have passed away, suddenly leaving them with less supervision and not as much assistance with their needs. Children often learn to help with laundry, wash dishes, cook meals, make school lunches and babysit their younger siblings. Teenagers might get part-time jobs after school to help cover the cost of their activities.
Children and parents learn effective ways to build strong relationships within a blended family. Such a family often doubles, sometimes even triples, in size so family members must find healthy ways to resolve their differences and build a foundation of trust. By treating all children in the household as fairly and as equally as possible and by enforcing ground rules that center on respect, trust, kindness and loyalty, parents can encourage strong parent-child and sibling relationships.
Larger Number of Relatives
Members of a blended family have a larger number of relatives and family role models to consult, befriend and rely on. More grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins added to the picture give parents and kids a larger support base for companionship and advice.
Increased Standard of Living
Blended families often experience fewer financial difficulties compared to single-parent families. Blended households often have two incomes -- or more, if teenage children work -- to help cover expenses. In some cases, however, a parent might owe child support to an ex-spouse in addition to having to help meet the financial demands of a new family.