Blended Families in Alexandria, VA—Counselors and Therapists
When Carol married Mike, they were forming more than a new marriage. They were forming a new family. Carol had her three girls, and Mike had his three boys. However, they were one family. At one point, Carol told her sons that the only steps in their home led to the second floor. The message was clear: everyone has a place, and everyone belongs in this family. The Bradys set the standard for blended families… “they knew that it was much more than a hunch; That this group must somehow form a family. That’s the way we all became the Brady bunch.” The Brady Bunch did not shy away from many of the challenges that blended families experience: Marcia and Greg competed to be the boss, and all the children struggled to accept a new parent. But the Bradys also did not shy away from the benefits of blending a family. The Bradys home was full of chaos at times, but it was also filled with love as well. Of course, blending a family is never as easy as the Bradys made it look, but for families in the real world, there are resources available. Many people are going to counseling for blended families as they are forming a one, big, happy home.
“Live one day at a time (or one moment if you have to).
Blend little by little and celebrate even the smallest breakthrough.”
—Dani Parker-Kimbrough, mom and stepmom
As with anything in life, every challenge holds opportunity, and bringing two families together as one is the same. Yes, there are challenges and struggles. But there are also untold benefits and opportunities. When families work together and blend little by little, they often build a home where resiliency, love, and connection can grow. No family has to build this home alone. Often, blended families work with a counselor to establish their unique home.
If your family is in the process of blending, know that you are not alone. It is normal to have ups and downs. It is also normal to reach out for help. That is why Thriveworks Alexandria offers counseling for blended families.
One, Big, Happy Family
Blended families can come in any shape and size. There is no formula, and there is no mold. For example, blended families can look like…
- A divorced parent who moves in with their new partner. The new partner does not have children of their own but plans to take a parenting role in the children’s lives.
- A widowed parent remarries. The new spouse also has children.
- Parents who divorced and set up their own homes. They are both active in the children’s lives. They may be dating, but their new partners are not involved in the children’s lives.
Within any blended family, there will be challenges. Certain issues may not arise in every home, but they are common to step families. Children often face a different set of hurdles than adults.
Even the most positive changes can cause stress for a child. As children adjust to a new family, a new living situation, and a new schedule, it is normal for them to feel overwhelmed. They may be feeling many different, difficult emotions. They may be experiencing deep loss and grief for the first time in their lives. They may be mourning their parents’ divorce or break-up. They may also be mourning a parent’s death. The parenting style in their blended family may be different, and transition to the new rules may be frustrating. Children may also be experiencing behavioral problems while they learn to handle these big emotions.
Establishing a new family can cause stress for the adults as well. The couple sets the tone for the whole family while they are also getting their own relationship off on the right foot. The adults have a lot of choices about how to go about blending their families. In particular, they will need to choose who will have active parenting roles and who will not. If a spouse or partner will not be parenting the children, then they will have to be clear about what their role is. If a spouse or partner has never parented previously but they will be stepping into that role, they will have a big learning curve.
Learning How to Blend
Establishing a new family is a lot of work, but it is worth the effort. There are no short-cuts to establishing a happy home, but here are a few tips for making the process as smooth as possible:
- Do not fake it: It is okay to say that blending a family is difficult. It is okay to acknowledge the hard. It is okay if everything is not fine all the time.
- Take action: Being proactive about problems is important. Do not be afraid to make a plan and set expectations for roles and routines early.
- Make Room for Understanding: Empathy is one of a blended family’s most powerful tools. Instead of pushing an agenda, seek to listen well to everyone in the family.
Therapy at Thriveworks Alexandria for Blended Families
If you and your family are ready to meet with a therapist, know that when you call Thriveworks Alexandria, your first appointment may be within 24 hours. We know families are busy, so we offer evening and weekend sessions. We also accept many different forms of insurance. Let’s work together. Call today.