Blended families are a complex subject because so much depends on: the persons involved; the circumstances of their separation; the feelings towards one’s new partner; when the new relationship began (before or shortly following separation); and the stage of the children’s adjustment.
Here is one (but not the only) best case scenario with the understanding that the greater the departure from best case, the more likely there may be problems.
Jake and Mary were growing apart, but still valued each other. They were mostly on the same page with parenting decisions affecting their children. They realized that although they were no longer “for” each other, they weren’t against each other. Neither had begun a new relationship prior to ending their own. They were able to sit down with their children and discuss the separation. Jake and Mary would live close to each other, and the children would have ample time with each parent. Both parents would also attend their extra-curricular activities and events.
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After separation, even though both dated other people, neither introduced the children to the folks they dated. They used their alone time to test new relationships. When one parent gained a special interest in a person they were dating, that parent first informed the other before introducing the children to the person.
When introduced, the person was seen as just a friend, and there was no expectation on the children to have any particular relationship or attitude towards that person. The parents knew that to facilitate a new relationship, it had to happen gradually over time, with no expectation that just because a parent may fall in love, it doesn’t mean that child must too. In time, the other parent managed a new relationship similarly.
Because of the slow, low key approach by both parents, the children, although upset with their parents’ separation, grew to accept it and understood their parents could have friends too. With time, those friendships grew more caring between everyone involved, and so the thought of living together came as no surprise and was entered into easily.
Nice story, right?
Believe it or not, I do hear of these stories from people, and for others, it can hopefully provide something to aspire to. Most people do go on to have new relationships. We want those to happen as successfully as possible, and appreciate that they cannot be rushed. Everyone, including the children, need time to adjust. The closer you can come to something of this story, the better chance you will have of making your blended family work. To the degree to which your situation departs from this story, consider counselling to help nudge your situation closer to this trajectory.