When Carol and her three daughters moved in with Mike and his three boys, their two families were blending into one. Of course, their family made for great TV too… “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 were America’s first high-profile blended TV family, but they were no means the last. Full House, Sister-Sister, Step by Step, Glee, Modern Family, and more followed in the Bradys’ footsteps. In reality, these TV families were simply following in the footsteps of ordinary families who were learning that family can take any shape or size. These TV families touched on many of the experiences that blended families have, both the challenges and the benefits of bringing two families together. Blended families may double the schools, double the music lessons, double the sports teams, double the chaos, but they also may double the connection, double the love, and double the laughs.
“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
Anything worth achieving takes time and effort, and blended families are no different. It can be a lot of work to bring two families under one roof, but often, that work is worth it. Blended families are often places where adults and children develop a strong sense of who they are, learn resiliency, and accept that life does not always go according to plan. As families establish their new life together, they often work with a counselor. Skilled therapists may understand common pitfalls that can throw a family off course, and when blended families are off track, experienced counselors often know the path back to being one, big, happy family.
Whether your family is just starting on its journey to become one or whether you are further along the path, know that Thriveworks in Raleigh offers counseling for blended families. We have helped many families as they establish their unique home.
Bringing Two Families Together
There is no mold or formula for blending a family. That is both a beauty and a challenge. Blended families can take any form, any shape, any size. They can look like…
- A re-coupled parent whose new partner does not have kids.
- A remarried widow whose new spouse has children.
- Divorced parents who have separate homes and separate lives, but they are both actively involved in their children’s lives.
- Two divorcees who are both bringing children to the new marriage.
Regardless of the type of blended family is formed, most experience some bumps along the way to a unified, happy home. Those challenges look different for the children and the adults.
Challenges for Children
When children face changes in their lives, even positive adjustments, they often feel uneasy and stressed. When they come into a blended family, children face a number of changes. They may have to home homes or rooms within their home. They may have to change schools or neighborhoods. When other children are introduced into their family, kids may struggle to adjust to a new birth order. Often, they have to get used to a new parenting style as well. While all these adjustments are happening, children are also often grieving. They may be grieving their parents’ break-up. They may even be grieving a parent’s death. All of these loses and changes usually mean that children are dealing with big emotions—frustration, anger, confusion, and more.
Challenges for the Couple
The adults in a blended family also face a number of changes. They will be establishing a new partnership or a new marriage, but they also will be leading all the relationships within the family. They must decide and clarify their own roles. Will each take on a parenting role? If not, what role will they carve out for themselves? If so, what skills do they need to build? Have they ever parented before? Couples have to navigate their own relationship, their children’s relationships but also possibly their ex’s.
Tips for Blending a Family
The challenges are many, but so are the benefits. Blending a family is a lot of work, but that work is often rewarded. There is no way to by-pass the challenge, but families can work smarter. Here are two tips for blending a family.
- Kick Denial to the Curb: It is ok to acknowledge the challenge. Not everyone is the Brady bunch—even the Brady bunch. If everything is not perfect, that is ok.
- Make Space for Empathy: In a blended family, everyone is adjusting. Everyone may be mourning something old. Everyone may be excited about something new. Take time to listen and understand each other.
Scheduling Counseling for Blended Families at Thriveworks Counseling in Raleigh, NC
If you and your spouse or partner are bringing your families together, consider reaching out for help. There are many resources and support systems available. Thriveworks in Raleigh offers counseling, and we have appointments available for blended families. When you contact our office, a scheduling specialist will answer your call and help you schedule an appointment. We do not have a voicemail, but we do have weekend and evening sessions. New clients also may have their first appointment within 24 hours of their first call. We work with a number of insurance companies and accept many different plans. Let’s work together. Call today.