Recently at a celebration of a friend’s 50th birthday, I was surprised to learn that three of us at the gathering were in blended families and are experiencing tension related to family decision-making.
Specifically, 10 per cent of us in the room had aging parents in second marriages, forcing a need for collaborative decision-making between adult kids and step kids. This, we agreed, can be tricky business.
We also surmised that this business of merged family decision-making is on the rise, since a 2011 survey by Statistic Canada found that 43 per cent of marriages in Canada end in divorce. The agency stopped tracking marriage stats six years ago, and there are no real numbers on second or third marriages, but based on the trend, stepfamilies are now commonplace.
Most of us agreed that while there can be many challenges around cooperation in any family striving to meet the needs of aging parents, it is especially challenging when there are two sets of kids trying to reach agreement on issues pertaining to their parents. In fact, in some instances it can become a tug-of-war that puts seniors in emotional peril.
I sought out some advice on this topic and found that the main points that tend to get ‘sticky’ in the aging parent / blended family scenario are: Living arrangements for aging parents, end of life decisions, and estate planning. This article looks at some of these points:
A social worker I chatted with who has spent the past 15 years working with families in a hospice environment had this advice on all things related to family decision-making tensions: