When Mike and Carol said, “I do,” they were committing themselves to more than a new marriage. They were committing themselves to their new family. Carol had her three daughters with hair of gold. Mike was living with his three sons, but they were all alone… “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 first aired in 1969, but they are still America’s iconic blended family. They had their challenges—struggle that were common to blended families. The kids had their rivalries and took time to adjust to a new parent. The Bradys also showed how wonderful being in a blended family can be. Their family expanded to include everyone, and everyone felt loved. At one point, Carol says to her sons that the steps that go to their second floor are the only steps in their home. The Bradys made blending a family look easy, and in real life, bringing two families together takes a lot of work. There are no magic formulas, but there is support. Many go to counseling for blended families as they set up their unique 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 in a blended family
Most of life’s challenges also hold an opportunity, and blending a family is no different. When two families come together as one, they may amplify the chaos, but they may also amplify the love. Blended homes can be places where love, resiliency, and connection are multiplied, and skilled therapists can often help families reach that goal.
If you are bringing two families together under one roof, know that it is normal to experiencing some bumps along the way. Also know that it is normal to reach out for help. Thriveworks Counseling in Durham has helped many blended families make their unique, happy home.
Becoming One Family
There is no right or wrong way to blend a family. When to families become one, they make their own path. This is part of the beauty and the challenge of a blended family. They can be…
- A widowed parent whose new partner moves into the home. The new partner does not have children, but is taking an active parenting role in the blended family.
- Divorced parents who both have children and are getting remarried. The children will live in their new home, and both parents will take an active role in their lives.
- Separated parents who are living separate lives, but they are parenting their children together. No new spouses or partners are involved in the kids’ lives.
Whatever shape or size the blended family takes, the one given is that there will be obstacles to overcome, both for the kids and the parents.
Kids can feel stressed during any life changes, even beneficial ones. When a family goes through the blending process, the children may experience the most amount of changes while having the least amount of say in those adjustments. Depending upon the circumstances, kids may have to acclimatize to a new home, a new neighborhood, a new school, new house rules, new siblings, a new parent and more. All the while, children may be grieving deep losses. One of their parents may have passed away or moved. Often, children in blended families are wrestling with difficult emotions: frustration, grief, and anger to name a few. These difficult emotions may be expressed through their difficult behavior.
Adults can feel the stress of blending a family as well. When a couple decides to blend their families together, they have a lot of decisions to make. For parenting, they need to decide if each will take on a parenting role. If so, new parents may need to learn healthy parenting skills. If not, they will need to be clear about what their role in the children’s lives will be. The couple will also need to set the tone with how they interact with each others’ ex’s. There will also be relationships with the in-laws to navigate as well.
At Thriveworks Counseling, each family receives personalized care, but there are general tips for bringing a blended family together:
- Do not pretend that everything is fine: Blending a family has its challenges, and it is okay to acknowledge that. Perfection is not the goal.
- Take proactive action: Set routines and roles and expectations early. Formulate a plan. Initiate difficult conversations sooner rather than later.
- Make room for empathy: In a blended family, everyone is fighting their own battles. Seek understanding before acting. Use empathy to build bridges with each other.
- Ask for what you need: In big families, everyone needs to feel safe enough to speak up when they need something. There is too much going on to wait for someone else to take care of it.
Scheduling Blended Family Therapy at Thriveworks Counseling in Durham
Are you in the process of bringing two families together? If so, you are not alone. When you call to schedule an appointment for blended families at Thriveworks in Durham, you may be meeting with your therapist the following day. Our office accepts many different forms of insurance, and we offer weekend and evening sessions. Appointments are available. Call today.