A blended family is a family that has at least one step-parent or adoptive parent, where children are part of the household. This occurs when a single parent remarries and brings offspring into the new marriage. When children from different families combine to form a single home, they often conflict over many issues, including discipline, parenting styles, relations with new siblings/new stepparents, etc. Blended family counseling is needed more today than ever before because of the increase in divorce, remarriage, and conflicts.
The non-biological parent may feel caught in the middle of family conflicts, even feeling excluded from activities with their children. There is an adjustment period after marrying or remarrying for many blended families before it becomes comfortable enough to start a family.
Challenges A New Blended Family Faces
While blended families bring greater financial security and blended family counseling can help ease conflicts, many problems still arise. Some of the most common challenges include:
- Conflict with stepchildren
- Conflict with spouse
- Conflict with the ex-spouse.
As they learn to live together, the stress on blended families can be eased by the help of marriage counseling. Both spouses and their new step-families need to attend therapy sessions so that everyone can learn how to work together as a family. It can also help with parenting decisions and teach parents to be more open-minded about their children’s feelings and thoughts on the transition.
What is Blended Family Counseling?
Blended family counseling helps children, step-parents, and biological parents communicate their feelings regarding the transition. The family therapist serves as a mediator or guide during this process and can hold separate sessions for the step kids and adults.
During couples counseling, they offer support to the parents, helping them know how to deal with certain blended family situations. Divorce is never easy, and every family has different needs and expectations. Whether it’s financial or emotional healing, blended family counseling can help you through the process of getting back on your feet after divorce.
What Is the Success Rate For Blended Families?
Just as every family is unique, so is the success rate. However, some challenges may need extra help from a professional counselor to get through. Blended family counseling is designed for these unique challenges. It can be very beneficial if everyone works together towards the same goals of peace and happiness within the new family unit.
Blended families may require more counseling on family issues than other families because of the added challenges of combining children from different parents. While the adults/children may be uncomfortable talking about their problems with others, it is gratifying to have a place to express yourself and receive constructive criticism. When everyone works together towards a common goal, the blended family can become a strong foundation for future generations – on a related note, see bilingual counseling or counseling in Spanish for couples who must overcome language barriers in their relationship.
Among the reasons blended families fail are the following:
1. Over Emphasis on the Negative Points of the Previous Relationship
When a blended family first gets together, there is often an ebb and flow of emotions. Adults and children may feel insecure about their new role in second marriages. The parents may be afraid that their new spouse will leave them for someone better or that they will never live up to their standards. Often, these doubts stem from previous experiences with earlier relationships. These insecurities can lead to a fear of commitment, which is often the cause for why blended families fail.
On the other hand, the stepchildren might still be going through a grieving process from the loss of their previous family unit. Grief can manifest itself in various negative ways, like rebelling and fighting with their new siblings or step-parents.
2. Emotional Incompatibility
Emotional incompatibility occurs when one partner continuously keeps bringing up past mistakes and focuses solely on the negative points about their partner. Often, these negative points are brought up to justify their partner’s actions or make them feel better. This constant need for reassurance is draining on the other spouse and may not resolve the issue.
3. Lack of Commitment
A lack of commitment occurs when one partner does not put forth an effort into making the relationship work. It can cause their new partner to feel like they are not valued or seen as necessary. It is easy for the other spouse to begin downplaying their importance in the relationship with such negative feelings.
4. Children’s Behavior Issues/Sibling Rivalry
When children come from previous marriages, and there is a lack of communication, resentment can grow among the kids. Children can feel a lack of attention from their new step-parent, which may mean they will act out to gain attention. Sibling rivalry can arise from stepchildren thinking their non-biological parent is favors their own child over the other kids.
While blended families have a higher failure rate, these issues are not insurmountable if everyone works together and sets realistic expectations for the entire family.
5. The Ex-Factor
Your ex-partner may be responsible for the failure of the blended family. It’s often due to infidelity or because one spouse feels like they are not getting their needs met in the marriage. Co-parenting and sharing custody with ex-partners needs a delicate approach, especially for blended families. Ex-spouses who are toxic can use the kids as a pawn to spread hate in a blended family situation.
If this behavior continues, it can lead to resentment and even abuse between your spouse and yourself, which often leads to divorce. However, you can take several steps during counseling to ensure everyone can keep their emotions under control.
How Can Counseling And Therapy For Blended Families Help?
Counseling and therapy can help blended families in many ways. The children are often able to resolve their feelings of insecurity by talking to someone impartial. If the family attends counseling sessions together, it can be a time for everyone to reconnect and be on the same page emotionally.
Family therapy allows for all parties to express their feelings and concerns without feeling as though they are being judged. This is beneficial for those who do not feel comfortable sharing their feelings with those close to them. Moreover, sometimes a conversation with family or friends cannot substitute for professional guidance from a couples therapist.
Counseling helps create a healthier environment by helping the new family spend time together but also have boundaries in their daily life. While these boundaries can change if needed, it gives everyone a starting point to know what to expect.
Blended family counseling allows everyone to discuss their concerns and how they can be resolved. By having a neutral party involved, it becomes easier to express opinions without fear of repercussion. This impartiality reduces the number of emotional outbursts and increases communication between all parties involved.
Many times, blended families come with baggage from the previous unions. However, this does not mean there is no chance for success. Through counseling sessions, it becomes easier to establish relationships and set boundaries that work for everyone involved. Counseling can help resolve any issues that may pop up regarding trust, insecurity, infidelity, and lack of commitment between the newly formed family.
When is the Right Time To Seek Therapy?
If you feel like your relationship is not what it should be, then therapy may be the answer you need. If there are issues with communication or any other concerns that keep cropping up, seek professional advice. It’s important to remember that healthy relationships take work and time, which means that family therapy does not have quick results.
However, it can resolve issues that will help your blended family become happier and healthier.
Ways to Prevent Problems in a Blended Family
As with any family, whether it is blended or not, there will always be issues and problems that arise. However, these can often be prevented if the families work together and do their best to see the other’s perspective. There are several ways one can prevent future problems in blended families by:
- Sharing family responsibility
- Respecting boundaries between partners
It encourages positive communication skills among the children involved. It is also important to remember that blended families will not succeed without effort from everyone, and parents should ask for the kid’s help. It requires open communication, mutual respect, and understanding.
Tips to Transition to a Blended Family
If your relationship is transitioning into a blended family, then there are several things to remember. It will take work and effort, but with time it can become more accessible. Establishing boundaries of respect between all parties involved is essential. Be patient with each other and make compromises where needed. Remember that everyone involved has their own needs and desires, but it is necessary to consider the other person’s feelings.
Do not rush into relationships with each other. Let time heal any wounds that may still exist between you. It is also essential for children to establish healthy relationships with all involved parties, especially with their new partners. Talk about parenting styles and the co-parenting arrangements you have with your new spouse so that you are on the same page in this new family dynamic.
Blended family counseling is designed to help families find peace within their new unit. By working together, everyone can become more open-minded about the positive aspects of each person in the family. When this occurs, it becomes easier for couples to commit to one another and focus on the positive changes that come with a new blended family.
By overcoming their challenges together, the newly formed families can learn about each other and build a stronger foundation. Counseling can be used as an opportunity for everyone in the blended family to have their voices heard.