Counseling for Blended Families in Vancouver, WA and the Portland – Metro area
Counseling for Blended Families and Step-Parents
Often the hardest part of finding new love is navigating the process of gaining acceptance with his or her children from a previous marriage. A relationship with stepchildren increases stress on the newly remarried couple in ways that couples without children do not experience. A Blended Family refers to the family unit that is created when two separate families come together to form one family. This typically occurs when two people with their own children get married and move in together, blending their separate children into a single family unit.
As a stepparent, you may find it hard to imagine why your stepson or stepdaughter continues to reject you when you try so hard, or wonder how you will continue to deal with your partner’s ex-spouse.
Counseling for blended families can help you and your family.
Reasons Parents’ Seek Therapy for Blended Families
- Differing or conflicting parenting styles: One parent may be very responsive to a child’s needs while another expects the child to be more independent.
- Differing disciplinary styles: One parent may seem to be incapable of saying “no” to a child while another expects children to adhere to a more authoritarian style of discipline.
- Sibling Rivalry: When an only child suddenly finds themselves living in a house with multiple siblings they can feel like they have to compete for attention from both parents.
- Step Parenting: Many step parents struggle to discipline and interact with their spouse’s children on a day to day basis, creating stress and attachment failures.
Blended Family Issues
A blended family is often the product of a divorce. Today, it is actually more common for people to be in a blended family than to be in a traditional nuclear family dynamic. After being involved in a divorce, children may already be struggling. Adding step parents and siblings to the picture may alleviate or agitate that stress. Not only is the new couple trying to figure out how to navigate these relationships, but the children are trying to figure out who this new person is in their lives. Stepfamilies have dynamics unique to them because the roles of a stepmom, stepdad, and stepchildren never fit into a “traditional” family model.
In blended family counseling, children are encouraged to express opinions, fears and feelings in a kind and respectful manner. Parents can learn how to maintain a healthy relationship with their children while building a new and loving bond with their spouse and stepchildren. We can help you learn how to express your concerns, both with your new partner and your ex-spouse, in constructive, respectful ways.
Challenges Blended Families’ Face
- Deciding where to live: Blending two families usually involves changing neighborhoods, schools and the security of familiarity for some or all the family members.
- Resistance from the children: Some children do not want their parent to remarry or do not get along with their step-siblings. Children oftentimes will act out in some way against the natural parent and/or the step-parent.
- Implementing Rules and Discipline: Determining a structure of rules and discipline can be very challenging for the Blended Family and may also include challenges over disciple disagreement with the ex-spouses. This is a difficult time for children due to having different rules at different homes in addition to having to adjust to the reality of losing the family they had and adjusting to a new one being created.
- Deciding how the children will address their step-parent: Deciding how to address a step-parent can be an important aspect of the relationship between the step-parent and child.
- Continuing relationships with friends and family members associated with past marriages: Setting boundaries with these relationships is important to the health of the Blended Family unit as well as the marital relationship.
- Ongoing interaction with former spouses: Co-parenting can be very challenging and is often the source of discord within the new marital and Blended Family relationships.