What is a Blended Family?
One of the most well known and recognized blended families from recent history is the Brady Bunch. Do you remember them? It was a mom with 3 girls and dad with 3 boys who got married, moved in together and everything was great – not like many families I know!
At the Family Enhancement Centre we realize that blended families can take many shapes, forms and sizes. Some can include households with:
- Parents with their biological children
- Adults with adopted children
- Parents with step children
- Adults with foster children
- Adult children and their minor children living with their parents
- Parents or in-law living with their adult children…
And all different kinds of families can suffer through some ‘growing pains’ before life becomes happy for everyone again.
Although the blending of families is increasingly more common it is also an extremely challenging and complex task. However, with time and support most blended families can manage to form positive, healthy and functional relationships with their members.
There are many reasons for blended families to seek and obtain counselling services. To begin, there are signs that children may exhibit to let parents directly or indirectly know that they are having a hard time adjusting to the new family form. Some of the direct ways a child may do this is by showing resentment or anger towards their new step-parent, displaying an increase in behavioural issues or having their grades at school start to fall. Some of the indirect ways a child may be trying to tell you they are having difficulty in the new blended family is by appearing uncomfortable communicating or interacting with members of the blended family, withdrawing from the blended family or displaying reduced interest in daily activities.
It may be a good idea to explore counselling services if you are going through a divorce or separation in which children are involved, need help with mediation, have separated and are now entering a new relationship or require support with parenting strategies.
We offer many ways to support and reconnect blended families, here are a few:
- Play and Art Therapy are 2 very helpful ways that we can use to help connect with children and involve them in the therapeutic process while they have fun and learn new skills. Most children are not eager to come to counselling, they may feel like something is wrong with them or that it is going to be like a punishment. We have years of practice and experience on how to engage your children and get them talking and having fun while we gather information from them and work on teaching them the skills and strategies they need to make things better. Children shouldn’t have to carry the weight of the world on their shoulders and we help lighten their load and get them communicating with those that love and care for them.
- Couple’s counselling is a very important part of the process of blending families together. It is amazing when two people with their own values, perspectives and goals can come together without any issues. However, when you add parenting philosophies and approaches as well as multiple little personalities of any children involved it is a downright miracle if there isn’t some kind of problem! It is best for the ‘grown ups’ to be seen on their own so that they can discuss any differences and create a united front to help ease the adjustment for the children and we find these conversations are better without the children present. Discussions on anything from bedtimes to chores and from discipline to dating – these are all things that will come up and it’s better to be prepared with the answers before the kids start asking the questions!
- Family Therapy – this is where we can see the whole family together with all of its members. Although these sessions can be lively it is a great opportunity for everyone to be heard and for positive relational patterns and dynamics between members to be identified and expanded upon. Don’t be afraid! There is power in numbers and generally everyone wants to be happy in the end.
Benefits of Therapy:
There are many benefits that can be achieved if a blended family decides to obtain counselling services. A counsellor can support members of a blended family in learning strategies to manage stress and anxiety, strengthen communication, address conflict and work towards developing positive, healthy and functional family dynamics.