Why We Must Notice Blended Families

For years, blended families have lacked the support that they need to thrive—often ridiculed as imperfect and ignored in the family education movement and even the churches. While society still celebrates spouses whose first marriage is their only marriage and who only birth children within this context, fewer and fewer families fit this model. The reality is that blended family configurations now represent a force that cannot be ignored or marginalized. Blended families are the “new normal” and they represent an opportunity to bring majesty to our culture.

blended family

For much of American history, the traditional family structure has been lauded and romanticized as ideal (though admittedly there was hypocrisy in the handling of Black families during slavery). The celebrated paradigm for families went something like this. Virgins marry. Children are born within the context of the marriage. And, first marriages last until one spouse dies. People who didn’t fit within this model were stigmatized, sometimes even outcast, in many communities.

But, times change.

The Blended Family Boom

American culture is experiencing a blended family boom. This trend represents a convergence of several national trends:

  • Our sexualized culture has created an atmosphere where virginity before marriage has become too rare
  • 41% of all unmarried couples living together also have children living with them (a figure that is even higher in the African-American community)
  • Even when marriage does occur, only about half of first marriages survive. The odds are even worse for second and third marriages.
  • The presence of children is no longer a high barrier to divorce. In fact, about 65% of re-marriages involve children from the prior marriage)

The results speak for themselves.

  • 2,100 new blended families are formed EVERY day in America
  • More than one-third of the U.S. population is in stepfamily configurations (meaning 1 out of 3 Americans is now a stepparent, a stepchild, a step sibling, or some other member of a stepfamily)