Idealized fantasies of merged families meet cold, hard realities in this recent New York Times article:
We are no sitcom. We are a man and a woman with five children who live with us the majority of the time, two children who don’t, and three exes with whom we must share them. Carol and Mike never had to share the children. There was an episode about a cursed tiki and a tarantula but never about an exchange on a street corner by the oleanders. The children never found themselves shuttled out of the midcentury marvel that Mike had designed to their other house, where they ate different food; watched different shows; identified with different races; had different friends, different clothes, different relatives, different religions; and were expected to be full citizens of both.
Managing divergent individual needs in the modern post-divorce-remarried-nuclear family can present a virtual minefield of relationship stressors. I should know; my own experiences (starting off with one sister and winding up with an ultra-blended familial bouillabasse that added two halfs and eight step-siblings to my life) speak directly to this issue. It's left me needing to steer my clients toward parenting plans and child support strategies with children's needs at the forefront. Using that guiding principle lays the foundation for healthy relationships for years to come.