Counseling with Blended Families
Blended families usually develop in a very different way than most couples ever expect. Any time you bring a new person into the family the dynamics can’t help but change. When you choose a partner who has children, their children just became part of the package, but don’t expect the children to embrace the new step-parent as completely as you have.
Almost all children express dissatisfaction with biological and/or the blended family parenting at some point. Even biological parents frequently struggle with like-minded parenting and they have grown up with the child. Since you as the stepparent didn’t bond with the child from birth you must expect to put in some time and effort in doing so. In the meantime don’t be surprised if you sometimes blame yourself or others in the family for missteps along the way.
Quite often divorced parents feel guilty for what they have done to their child(ren) and sometimes become overly protective but can’t see it. Sometimes after remarriage they spot it in their partner but not themselves. Even if they do see it they may justify being “overly protective” because the new stepparent seems to be “overly harsh”. After all, “nobody knows my child like I do.”
I think it is valuable for parents to understand that neither parent is going to “ruin” the children if they are both trying to be good parents. As a matter of fact the truth is that having parents/stepparents that are very different from each other can complement each other and create real balance in the process of raising good children if a respectful parent/child relationship is developed. Then over time special relationships have a tendency to develop.
Blending your family does not happen overnight…it can sometimes take years for feelings of love to develop between a child and their stepmother or stepfather. One of the goals often becomes to overlook differences so that both parents exercise a whole lot of tolerance for the obvious…and the less obvious differences between all family members.
As a couple, you need to agree together on rules and responsibilities so that you are on the same page…or at least in the same book on the important issues. Stepparents, particularly those new to the job, often struggle with how they fit in and where their responsibilities lie. A stepparent does not replace a bio parent, so what is their role?
* Accept and support stepchildren as part of your family.
* Be proactive in building the relationship with your stepchildren.
* Decide on house rules and consequences with their biological parent.
* Agree on how to deal with ex-spouse relationships.
* Stop feeling torn between your children and your spouse.
* Develop patterns that separate families who thrive from those who fail.
I have worked with many blended families over the years. Effective blended family counseling is based on many years of professional experience and covers multiple aspects of blended family life to help your family be happy and experience life at its fullest!
“I fell in love with my husband, but honestly began to wonder if we could survive the stepparent issues. We have learned how to live with each other with increased tolerance and unity.”
A H / Colorado Springs