Mixed Family Problems

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Interracial couples may experience mixed family problems that will plague them throughout the marriage. When two individuals of different ethnic, religious, or cultural backgrounds choose to wed, facing opposition will become a part of married life. Biracial, multiethnic and cross-cultural families may face discrimination in areas of employment, housing, education, healthcare and religion. Caucasian women married to African American or Hispanic men may experience discrimination or be denied career advancement when coworkers or employers discover their mate's ethnicity. While the Equal Opportunity Employment Act of 1972 in the U.S. forbids workplace discrimination, such actions are difficult to prove. Many times, biracial couples either continue trying to keep a marriage secret, change jobs or relocate to more metropolitan areas where they can blend in.

Because of the Fair Housing Act of 1968 and the Civil Rights Act of 1966, mixed family problems are not as prevalent today for couples seeking to own or rent a home. Prior to the late 60s and 70s, African Americans and other ethnic groups were routinely denied equal housing, especially in predominantly Caucasian neighborhoods. But in the twenty-first century, there seems to be fewer obstacles when it comes to home financing. Banks and lending institutions may reason that regardless of a couple's race, religion or creed, money is still green. However, a lending institution's non-bias does not negate the fact that interracial and cross-cultural families may experience bigotry from a next door neighbor. In fact, many religious sects practice a mild form of segregation, preferring to settle among people of similar spiritual beliefs.

Residing in a neighborhood or subdivision based on the race or religion of its residents can be problematic for outsiders married to members. To a spouse who is also an outsider, language barriers, dietary restrictions or religious observances may present mixed family problems that could place undue stress on a marriage. American women married to Middle Eastern men may find the greatest challenge to be conforming to strict standards of dress or codes of conduct for females. Muslim women, for example, have few personal freedoms and are relegated to a status below males. A free-spirited American will be reluctant to give up some liberties, such as wearing form-fitting revealing clothing, to be shrouded in a jihab, the traditional Muslim attire which completely enshrouds a female's body.

For hundreds of years, Catholics endured the fear of excommunication for marrying a spouse outside of the faith. Since biblical times, mixed family problems have existed. Most notable, the Israelis and Arabs (both descendents of Abraham), have been bitter enemies fighting in an unending war to gain control of a tiny strip of land in the Middle East called Gaza. While rare, marriages between Arabs and Israelis do occur, certainly to the chagrin of the husband and wife's families. But, in the eyes of God, there is only one race and that is the human race. At Calvary's Cross, the shed blood of Jesus destroyed the wall of partition between Jew and Greek and forever unites all mankind in one blood. "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise" (Galatians 3:26-29).

Healthcare may also present mixed family problems, as some religions prohibit the use of blood transfusions or enforce ceremonial laws regarding personal hygiene. Jewish babies must be circumcised on the eighth day by a priest; but a non-Jewish mother might object to the practice. Jehovah Witnesses believe that consenting to blood transfusions is tantamount to drinking blood. Mixed family problems might arise between parents who observe abstinence from blood if doctors feel that a transfusion might save a minor child's life. In such cases, the courts can overrule a parent's decision to withhold treatment for life threatening diseases based on religious beliefs.

A variety of mixed family problems may plague children of biracial or cross- cultural parents. Not only will the kids need to learn two or more languages, but they may also be forced to choose one parent's religious beliefs over anothers. Imagine the inner conflict of a child born to an African American Baptist father and a Caucasian Catholic mother. For kids of Jewish and Protestant parentage, holidays could easily turn into a tug of war between moms and dads vying for their children's devotion to traditional Christmas observances versus Hannukah. In a Muslim household, the eating of pork is strictly prohibited. But children and their dual-religion parents who live in a non-Muslim community might have constant contact with relatives who routinely serve swine.

Although the acceptance of interracial unions has increased in recent years, husbands and wives must still deal with bigotry, sometimes in the immediate families. In the United States, a Caucasian woman may face mixed family problems including severe opposition and blatant prejudice when marrying an African American man, especially in the Deep South. Prevalent since African slaves first set foot in America, racial bigotry seems to have diminished in the last decade. But thousands of blacks and some whites lost their lives fighting for minorities in America to have the same rights as Caucasians; and the battle was not easy. Multiethnic or cross-cultural couples contemplating marriage should count up the cost of living in a society that might not be tolerant of others differences. Falling in love is easy, but enduring racial or religious bigotry can place stress on husbands, wives and children. Society has come a long way since the race riots of the turbulent 60s and 70s. Hopefully, the trend toward intermarriage and the development of a more global society will lessen the adverse affects of prejudice.

Step Kids In Marriage

How step kids in marriage are handled can either make or break an encore relationship. When previously wed couples decide to say I do, they may not give much thought to how a new family will fare. Children from a previous relationship may object to a new Mom or Dad; and sibling rivalry can become a big problem. But by using some common sense guidelines, couples can avoid troublesome areas and hopefully, live together happily ever after. The first step in dealing with the kids, PRIOR to marriage, is to establish a meaningful dialogue. Depending on the ages, adults should let the kids know of their intentions to become husband and wife. Because of the potential for unfavorable responses, a frank discussion is best conducted when the intended spouse is not present. Parents should allow children to express themselves without getting angry or throwing a tantrum. Kids may not immediately agree with a parent's choice, but will respect adults that listen to what they have to say. "Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee" (Exodus 20:12).

If there is opposition to the wedding, especially with step kids in marriage, adults should not allow themselves to be manipulated or intimidated by children. Two or three family meetings might serve to soothe ruffled feathers and disappointed hearts; but couples who have decided to marry should not be deterred by a little one's attitude or disappointment. Children tend to live in a make believe world where everything always stays the same; but the reality is that divorce does happen and adults remarry. What step kids in marriage really want to know is: "Will my mother or father still love me?" "Will this strange woman or man replace my real mother or father?" "Will I be mistreated or shunned by this new person in my parents life?" Addressing these questions can put to rest a child's fear of accepting someone other than the biological parent into their lives. Children need to know that in spite of a new marriage, the biological parent will still love them and that life with a stepmother or father can still be pleasant.

The real challenges will present themselves after the wedding when a blended family or new Mom or Dad has to live day by day in what could be initially a hostile environment. Defining specific roles of the custodial parent, step parent, and non-custodial parent is extremely crucial. Step kids in marriage will fare much better if there are clear lines of authority established early in the relationship. The primary caregiver should exercise the greatest control over the child. In most cases and depending on the circumstances, the secondary authoritative figure is the new mother or father. Thirdly, the non-custodial parent may exert a measure of control over a minor's life, especially when major decisions have to be made. "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6). On a daily basis in a blended household, children should be respectful to both adults; but a wise stepparent will never try to replace the biological mother or father. Nor should a child be made to relegate a new mother or father to a higher position than the biological spouse.

The custodial parent actually sets the parameters for how step kids in marriage will respond to a new mate. The biological spouse should establish boundaries and guidelines for children to follow, such as showing proper respect and being polite towards a new mother or father. Step kids in marriage may initially have bad attitudes, but the biological spouse can curb negative behavior and insist that a new mate be treated with respect and obeyed. In a second relationship it will be important for the new spouse to constantly remind themselves and the children that there should never be an effort to displace the non-custodial biological parent. Indeed, second husbands and wives should encourage minors and teens to interact with the biological ex-spouse or consult a mother or father on important matters, unless of course they are deceased. The role of the new spouse is to lend support to parenting the children while maintaining a neutral position in areas where the ex-spouses really should supersede. Such instances might include deciding where a high school student will attend college, choosing a prom dress, or disciplining a minor for making bad grades. Over time, there will be a gradual shift of responsibility from the biological non-custodial parent to the stepparent, but that takes time.

Handling step kids in marriage requires delicacy, tact, and balance. A new Mom or Dad may have to tread softly in the area of discipline, developing a friendship, and exercising parental authority. It is best to allow the custodial mother or father to interact with the child regarding the majority of disciplinary actions until a minor or teen feels comfortable with a new stepparent. When stepparents over step their bounds, the first thing a kid will shout is, "You're not my mother!" And they are right. A new husband or wife may benefit from learning how to ignore the little irritants or negative behavior step kids in marriage display. There is no point in reacting to every slight, every slip of the tongue, or a bad attitude. Eventually, when children see that the stepparent is not a threat to their happiness or relationship with the custodial parent; and that a new mother is not denigrating a biological parent, the environment will become less tense. Gradually, children will adapt to an alternative living arrangement and even become friends with the second husband or wife.

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