Blended families can accentuate differences more than non-blended families. Family counseling can be especially helpful in these instances where individual differences create conflict and distance. Counseling provides a safe place where family roles, rules, and interpersonal dynamics can be understood. These along with honoring individual and collective developmental stages lay the ground work for change. Change is the goal of family counseling, the kind of change that leads to peace, harmony, and healthy supportive relationships in a blended family.
Whether it’s parenting, co-parenting, step-parents, biological parents, extended family caregivers, or trusted others, it is essential for children to understand expectations, boundaries, and consequences in a consistent loving manner. Central to working with blended families is creating congruence among all leaders and caregivers for the children. Through congruence and consistency a family culture is established that fosters respect and trust. Respect and trust are qualities that children will use to build their self-esteem upon. By doing this the tension among siblings and other family subsystems is reduced and conflict is less complex because leadership or the executive subsystem has the respect needed to foster order within the family.
Respect and trust are qualities that children will use to build their self-esteem upon.
Children’s Need for Security and Confidence in the Family System
The addition of a new step-parent into a family can be a challenge for children. Stability of the family is threatened unless clear roles and rules are defined and lived out within the new family structure. Issues as simple as what to call the new parent can be critical in establishing a secure space of children to thrive.
The question of loyalty is related to security. What roles does the ex-spouse have in the child’s life now that there is a new parent figure in the house? Emotions rooted in deep attachment need to be recognized and managed accordingly. Children need understanding about how the new parent will fit into the relationship between the biological parents. All this does not happen immediately and there is not one way to do it but a clear plan needs to be defined. Otherwise children will get confused and loyalties will be divided.
Therapy & Coaching
Our therapists and coaches have worked with parents from all types of families including blended families. They have a wide array of theories and tools along with experience teaching family systems, and raising children and step-children.
Please view the Resources page to see books that can be helpful for blended families.