Carol and Mike showed the world that there is no limit to the form love and family can take. Mike’s three boys did not always mix well with Carol’s three girls, but somehow, they always found their way. In the process, the Bradys became America’s iconic and beloved blended family. They faced a number of common challenges for blended families: Bobby and Cindy competing to be the family’s baby and each child struggling to adjust to a new parent—to name a few. The Bradys met each challenge with patience, acceptance, and love, and like many other step families, they grew closer in the process… “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 Bradys had the distinct advantage of having all their problems resolve within a 30-minute episode. While blended families rarely resolve their problems so easily, there are many resources for them. Many step families are working with a therapist and 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
Every problem holds an opportunity for something good, and the problems that blended families face are no different. When two families are merged into one, they may double the chaos and the struggle, but blended families often double the connection and the love as well. Many adults and children alike learn how to love deeply and resiliently in a blended family. No one has to take on the challenge alone. Skilled therapists who have experience blending families can often help make the process as smooth as possible.
Thriveworks Charlotte offers blended family counseling because we know that being one, big family is not always easy, but it is worth the effort.
Blended and Step Families
Some people prefer to call them step family, others call theirs a blended family. Whatever term you prefer, the idea is the same: two (or three or four) families are in the process of becoming one. This process has no mold, and there are no limits to the size and shape that blended families have. For example, step families can look like…
- A re-coupled parent whose new partner does not have children and is not taking an active parenting role.
- Remarried parents who have both been divorced and who both have children. Like the Bradys, they are both parenting all the children.
- A windowed parent who is dating again and actively working toward giving their partner an actively role in parenting the children.
- Parents who have divorced and are living separate lives but parenting together. They are not dating or actively seeking remarriage.
The divorce rate was 30 percent for first-time marriages in 1969 when The Brady Bunch aired its first episode. Today, that rate is 40 percent, and the rate for second and third marriages rises even higher. Consistent with the divorce rate, 50 percent of America’s children (13 years-old and younger) live in a blended family. There are many blended families, and the number is growing daily. Often, these families are facing similar challenges.
Challenge for the Kids
Even changes that are for a child’s best interest can be unsettling for them. Kids in a blended family are often dealing with challenging emotions. They may feel the stress from changes. They may be grieving the loss of their parent’s marriage or a parent’s death. Difference between their parents’ homes may be confusing to them, as may uncertainty in the role a new parent may play in their lives. It may take children a while to learn how to process these strong emotions in a healthy way, and in the meantime, they may experience behavioral problems that can be scary to them and their parents.
Challenges for the Adults
When a couple is establishing their relationship, they are also setting the tone for their whole family. One of these tasks can be daunting in and of itself, but adults in blended families are taking both on at the same time. That may mean that a partner who does not have kids needs to learn new parenting skills. That may mean accounting for the children’s needs as well as their own. That may mean learning how to navigate ex’s as well as in-laws. These are big challenges, and it is okay to reach out for help.
Counseling for Blended Families at Thriveworks Charlotte: Scheduling an Appointment
As you read through information about blended families, did you recognize any of the challenges? Most likely, you did. These challenges can be difficult, but with help, they are often opportunities to grow closer as a family. If you are ready to reach out, Thriveworks Charlotte is ready to meet with you. When you contact our office, know that one of our scheduling specialists will answer your call (we do not have a voicemail!) and help you make an appointment. New clients often have their first appointment within 24 hours of their first call. Weekend and evening sessions are offered. Many insurance plans are also accepted. Let’s work together. Call today.