Mike and his boys, Greg, Peter, and Bobby, welcomed Cindy and her girls, Marcia, Jan, and Cindy into their home and into their family. They were four men, living all together. She was a mom, bringing up three very lovely girls. Of course, they became The Brady Bunch, America’s iconic blended family. Their family showed everyone that families can come in any shape or size. They showed America that blended families have challenges—sibling rivalry, loss and grief, and more, but that with those challenges come opportunities to love and accept and grow. Like most blended families, the Bradys had plenty of drama in their lives, but they also had plenty of affection. The challenges of blending two families into one are many, but so are the potential benefits. And real-life blended families do not have to face the challenges alone. There are resources available. Many are going to counseling for blended families.
“One of the most important lessons our children have learned from our divorces is that some things in life can come to an end, but that’s ok because something new is manifested. In our case, it’s a blended family that has respect, love, trust, authenticity and a sense of fun.”
—Jennifer Kessler, mom and stepmom
Blended families will bump up against obstacles as they come together, but within every obstacle is an opportunity. When there is loss, there is also gain. When one path ends, another begins. These are not just clichés, but they are truths to which blended families cling. Many go to therapy for blended families to help them navigate the challenges and maximize the benefits of making a new home.
The therapists at Thriveworks Atlanta understand what it takes build one, big, happy family—both the obstacles and the opportunities. We have worked with many blended families, offering them the guidance and support they deserved.
Bringing Two Families Together
There is no blueprint or mold or formula for blended families. Therein lies much of the challenge and the beauty of blending a family. They can be any shape or size. They can take any form. Blended families can be divorced parents, living separate lives but parenting together. Blended families can be a widowed parent who remarries, and the new spouse does not take a parenting role in the child’s life. Blended families can be divorcees who remarry, who both have kids, and who will both be actively parenting the children. For two families to come together as one, roles must be clarified and challenges addressed so that each family member feels loved and is free to love. Often, the kids and adults in a blended family face common problems on the way to this goal.
Common difficulties for couples who are blending their families:
Forming a new partnership or marriage is difficult on its own, but in blended families, couples do this while leading their family through the process of change. The couple sets the tone for the whole family, and they have many decisions to make. Each partner will have to decide what parenting role they will take. If they will not be actively parenting each other’s children, then they will need to clarify what their role will be. If they will be parenting together, they will have to establish their own, unique parenting style. Couples will also have to figure out how to relate to each others’ ex’s and the in-laws. There are a number of relationships that need to be established.
Common difficulties for kids who are in a blended family:
Adults have a lot of change to navigate in a blended family, but so do children. Anything new in a child’s life can feel stressful, even positive changes. Kids often have the least power to affect change as the family blends. Further, they are often grieving. They may be grieving the loss of a parent to a move or to a death. They may be adjusting to the loss of a school or home. Kids may be adjusting to the rules at one parent’s house and different rules in another parent’s home. They may also be getting used to new siblings or a new birth order (no longer the baby or the oldest). All these changes can come with big emotions: frustration, sadness, grief, anger, and more. These big feelings can overwhelm an adult, much less a child.
Scheduling Therapy at Thriveworks Atlanta for Blended Families
While reading about blended families, you may have recognized some of the common difficulties that they face. If you did, know that you are not alone. Many other families are going through similar things, and resources are available. Many blended families are reaching out and receiving the help they need. Skilled therapists can often guide the process of blending a family. There is no magic potion, but sometimes, counseling can make a significant impact.
If you are ready to start therapy for blended families, know that when you call our office, a person (not a voicemail) will answer and help you make an appointment. We accept many different forms of insurance. We also offer weekend and evening sessions. It is possible to become one, big, happy family. Your family can thrive. We can help. Call Thriveworks Atlanta in Sandy Springs today.