Siblings

BLENDED FAMILIES.

Weaving bonds by choice.

Great resources for Stepfamilies

Therapist Uncensored Podcast

TU38: The Blended Family: How to Create Strong and Lasting Step-Family Relationships

Ron Deal: Articles

https://www.smartstepfamilies.com/view/learn

BLENDED FAMILIES

We love working with blended families because making a few important changes in the family system can have huge rewards for the family. 

BUILDING RESPECT AND TRUST

Blended families have the same challenges as any other family… and then some. Mom and dad, working together and respectfully supporting one another, always makes for smoother parenting. In blended families however, we sometimes have two or more sets of parents trying to cooperate and “be on the same page”.

 

Communication and discipline styles, expectations for the children, parenting time, value systems, and lifestyles choices often become points of contention. The scenarios are as diverse and unique as we are as people. Respect and trust are essential if there is to be harmony in the parenting, co-parenting, and step-parenting effort. These two precious commodities, however, are often sorely lacking, as the disappointment and distrust that fueled the divorce(s) often spill over into the new family units.

Parents in blended families need to learn how to express their concerns, both with their new partner and their ex-spouse, in constructive, respectful ways, so as to strengthen trust and cooperation, and avoid more divisiveness. They need to learn how to “choose their battles” and decide whether the emotional fall-out from pursuing a conflict is worth the gains they hope to achieve.

CHILDREN CRAVING FOR SECURITY

The children of blended families long for security. They need to know that they are loved and wanted by both their parents. The addition of a new step-parent into the family can either facilitate or hinder that quest for security, depending on how clear the new roles have been explained and accepted, and how free the child feels to embrace this new parent figure.

 

The question of loyalty to the absent parent becomes a major factor.

 

  • Is it OK to call this new person “mom” or “dad”, or would this be seen as a betrayal by the absent parent?
     

  • Can the step parent be patient, and trust that time, experience with the children, and support of the children’s biological parent, is a much preferred approach?

 

It will get them further, faster, in establishing a healthy relationship, than coming on strong, and trying to assert their control of the children.

A CLEAR THERAPY PLAN

Couples working to blend a family can often get overwhelmed by the demands of daily life coupled with the strains of unmet expectations and pain from prior relationships. We help build a clear path for healing, prioritize critical items for your family, and work through them, one by one.

 

We have listed below some typical items on a couple's plan. Most couples would address 5 or 6 of these items while in therapy.

  • The Family Background (Family Tree)
     

  • Communication techniques
     

  • Identify Fears, Obstacles & "Ghosts" rooted in the Past
     

  • Crockpot vs Blender
     

  • Insiders vs Outsiders
     

  • Creating a Positive Vision/Culture for the Blended Family (New Blueprints)
     

  • Family Meetings: Why, How & What
     

  • Boundaries: How they work and how they can backfire 
     

  • Parental Alienation Syndrome: What you can do about it.
     

  • Creating "Couple strength".
     

  • Co-parenting Plans for ex spouses.
     

  • Creating house rules.
     

  • Roles, Responsibilities, Rules, Rituals and Money.
     

  • Managing discipline differences between the couple and/or the exes.
     

  • Stepmom - the most important and difficult role: classic challenges, boundaries, couple disputes.
     

  • Different parenting and discipline styles.
     

  • Relationships between ex-partners and step-parents.
     

  • Relationship between child and step-parent.
     

  • Relationship between child and step-siblings.
     

  • Visitation and parenting plans.
     

  • Grief and loss after divorce

Let your therapist know which areas are most important to you.

GETTING UNSTUCK

The single most painful and destructive pattern that often arises is when ex-spouses fight with each other, start disparaging the new spouses, and then drag the kids into it.

 

On occasion, it has been very helpful to get the new spouses and the ex-spouses in the room with us to work through the conflict for the good of the kids. This is almost impossible to do outside of the context of therapy but can be tremendously rewarding. 

Just as it is in the family, trust in the counselor and the counseling process are also essential if growth and change is to happen. We have been able to establish that trust relationship with many blended families, and we look forward to engaging in that effort with you.