In Season 12 of the Real Housewives of New Jersey, Teresa Giudice told her co-stars that she and her family were going to move in with her boyfriend Luis Ruelas and his family. Teresa has four children with her former husband Joe Giudice. They are all girls: Gia, Gabriella, Audriana and Milania. At one time or another, each of her four daughters have appeared on the Real Housewives of New Jersey tv show. Teresa was married to JoeGiudice from 1999 to 2019. Joe has been out of the family picture as he is still being deported to Italy and has been unable to re-enter the U.S. to see his family.
As the family drama related to deportation was occurring, Teresa met Luis Ruelas. Luis has two children, David and Louie Jr with his former wife, Marisa DiMartino. Teresa Giudice just announced recently that she and Luis were going to have a blended family.
Real Housewives of New Jersey Teresa Guidice Blended Family
The Giudice and Ruelas families are not unique in this regard. The U.S. Census reports that about 16% of all children in the US live in a “blended family” situation. The term blended family implies that the family members living under one household includes a stepparent, stepsibling or half-sibling. This figure is estimated to be higher than the 8% of children who live with a step parent and slightly higher than 12% who live with stepsiblings (step brothers and step sisters) or half siblings. Please see Pew Research Series, The American Family Today, December 17, 2015 for additional information.
Real Housewives of New Jersey Potential Stressors of Blended Family
Even though it is rather common place to be a member of a blended family or to raise your child in a blended family situation, Good Therapy identifies the following stressors.
- The parenting styles differ from one parent to the other,
- The variations of step family/biological family routines,
- The conflicts revolving around visitation rules,
- The ongoing disagreements between the separated parents and/or stepparents,
- The potential conflict and uncertainty surrounding new stepsiblings,
- The time needed for each stepsibling to adapt to the conditions of the blended family varies from child to child,
- The inability to let go, or to continue to hang on to expectation of maintaining strong bonds with the separated family member(s),
- The struggle to manage grief, feelings of abandonment, and other strong emotions during periods of separation,
- The demand for new parents and/or step parents to transition into a new parenting role rather quickly, and
- The potential for conflict related to rivalry may arise when close bonds with the separated family member is maintained.
Real Housewives Tips for You
In spite of the challenges posed by blended family relationships, these families can work out. They prove to be resilient and can last a long time, particularly with a few of these recommendations from the American Psychological Association in mind.
- Resolve financial and visitation arrangements prior to initiating a new living situation.
- Clear your heart and mind of all grievances against the former partner.
- Determine, prior to the initiation of a new living arrangement, the role each partner will play in child rearing.
- Consider developing a list of household rules: those that are negotiable and rules that are non-negotiable.
- Offer verbal recognition, praise, and affection as an effective and early method for establishing new relationships with stepchildren.
- Maintain special activities and participate in special events as the separated partner so that the child will lessen his/her feelings of grief and abandonment.
- Refrain from speaking ill of the separated partner in front of the children.
Considering the stressors and the recommendations to mitigate and prevent them, James Bray, PhD, a researcher and clinician at the Department of Family Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine estimates that, “under the best conditions, it may take two to four years for a new stepfamily to adjust to living together.”
American Psychological Association, Making Stepfamilies Work, August 23, 2019.
Good Therapy, Blended Family Issues, April 8, 2020.
Pew Research Series, The American Family Today, December 17, 2015.