Mike and Carol were meant to be. He had three boys. She had three girls. Theirs was a marriage that aligned perfectly. The Brady bunch was America’s first and iconic blended family… “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 their fair-share of challenges. The show tackled many common problems that can occur in step families: Greg and Marcia’s rivalry to be the boss, and the children’s acceptance of a new parent. At one point, Mrs. Brady reminds her children that the only steps in the home led to the second floor. Mike and Carol did their best to offer consistently, love, and acceptance to their children. While it was not always easy, the Bradys found their way, as many families do. Other blended families do not have the luxury of having their problems wrapped up in a 30-minute TV episode, but there are many resources available to blended families, to help them live in one, big, happy home. Many go to counseling for blended families as they bring two homes together.
“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
With any challenge, there is also opportunity, and blending a family is no different. With two families coming together, the struggles and drama may double, but that means the love and connection may double too. Often, blended homes are places where adults and children learn resiliency, deep love, and a strong sense of self. Building a loving and accepting home is something most blended families want, but they may not know how to navigate all the roadblocks in their way. Skilled counselors can often guide the process with blended family therapy.
If you and your partner are in the process of bringing two families together under one roof, know that it is normal to experience challenges. Help is available. The therapists at Thriveworks Grand Rapids have worked with a number of families who are learning how to blend well.
Blending Two Families
Whether they are called blended families or step families, the concept is the same: two families are learning how to become one. There is no mold for this process or limit to the shape blended families can take. Here is a small sample of different types of blended families:
- A widowed parent who has remarried. The new spouse does not have children of their own but is working toward actively parenting the children.
- A re-coupled parent with a new partner who lives with the family but is not actively parenting the children.
- Divorced parents who have set up separate living situations but are actively involved parents. They may or may not be dating again.
- Divorcees who have remarried and both bring children to the family.
When The Brady Bunch first aired, it was 1969 and the divorce rate for first marriage was 30 percent. The divorce rate for first time marriages is now 40 percent, and even higher for second and third marriages. More and more families are blended every day. It makes sense that approximately half of all of America’s children, ages 13 and under, live in a step family. Most blended families bump up against similar road blocks.
Children in a Blended Family
Any change in a child’s life can induce stress, even adjustments that will ultimately be positive for them. When kids transition into a blended family, they may have to make significant adjustments to their schedule and their relationships. They may have to go from being the oldest to a middle child. They may no longer be the baby of the family. They may have to adjust to a new parenting style. All the while, children are often processing difficult emotions. They may be grieving their parents’ divorce or break-up. They may be grieving a parent’s death. If both biological parents are involved in their lives, kids may be experiencing the frustration of living in two homes with two different expectations. These difficult emotions can lead to behavioral challenges before children learn how to process them in a healthy way.
Adults in a Blended Family
When a couple decides to blend their family together, they are often seeking to establish their own relationship as well as their family’s. Just one of these tasks is challenging in and of itself. The couple has a lot of decisions to make as they begin the process of blending. They will need to define their roles as parents: will both be parenting? If so, what will their unique style be? If not, what will the new partner’s role be? Along with establishing their own home, they may also have to navigate how their ex-spouse parents.
Therapy for Blended Families at Thriveworks Grand Rapids: Setting Up an Appointment
If you are bringing two families together as one, know that there is help available. The challenges you are experiencing may also be opportunities to bond as a family. The therapists at Thriveworks Grand Rapids have helped many families come together as one. When you call our office, one of our scheduling specialists will help you set up an appointment. New clients often meet with their therapist within 24 hours. Weekend and evening sessions are offered as well. Let’s work together.