Carol and Mike’s lives were perfectly aligned—a match made in heaven. Mike, with his three boys, needed Carol and her three girls. The Brady Bunch made blending a family look easy… “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.” Just like that, the Bradys had one, big, harmonious home. If only bringing two families together were so easy. The Brady Bunch touched on some of the challenges that stepfamilies face…Marcia and Greg’s rivalry to be in charge, for example. However, being a sitcom, these challenges were resolved within a 30-minute episode. It is normal for stepfamilies to bump up against difficulties as they set up their new home, and it is also normal for stepfamilies to go to therapy. Counseling for blended families has helped many people navigate the challenges and maximize the benefits of bringing two families together as one.
The challenges of blending two families are many, but so are the benefits. When families come together, they may double the people, double the chaos, but they also double the love. Blended families can be places where deep connections are formed, where family members forge a unique sense of self, and where resiliency is built. Many families want to be blended into one, big, harmonious family, but they are not sure how to do this. There are many roadblocks that can keep families from coming together, but these common challenges also have common solutions. Skilled therapists can often guide the process through blended family counseling.
If you and your loved ones are coming together to form a blended family, know that you do not have to navigate the challenges alone. Thriveworks Westminster provides counseling for blended families, and we have worked with families who are at different stages of the blending process. We are here to help.
What Can Blended Families Look Like?
Sometimes, blended families are called stepfamilies because a parent or a sibling or a partner are asked to step into a unique role. There are no limits or molds on what a blended family can look like. It would be impossible to list every kind of step or blended family, but here are a few examples:
- A remarried parent whose new spouse does not have children but takes an active role in parenting.
- A re-coupled parent whose new partner has children as well. The children and adults are living together, and both parents are actively parenting each other’s children.
- Divorced parents who are living separately but sharing parenting duties. They may or may not be dating. If they are, their partners are not involved in their children’s lives.
- Remarried parents whose new spouses take on a mentoring role instead of a parenting role in the child’s life.
In 1969, The Brady Bunch aired its first episode, and the divorce rate was at 30 percent for first-time marriages. That rate today is 40 percent, and higher for second and third marriages. After a divorce, many people choose to seek out another relationship or another marriage. The US Census Bureau estimates that approximately 1300 new blended families are formed each day. Half of America’s 60 million children who are 13 years old and younger live in a blended family. Many of these stepfamilies are facing similar challenges—both for the children and for the adults.
Kids in a Blended Family
Changes, even positive changes, can be unsettling for kids. Often, in periods of transition, kids experience the most changes but have the least ability to exert control. Kids may be navigating challenging emotions that they have never felt previously. They may be grieving the death of a parent or their parent’s break-up. They may be processing the frustration of having two homes with two different sets of rules. These emotions can be a vicious cycle as they often cause behavioral problems that can make life even more challenging for a child.
Couples in a Blended Family
As a new marriage or partnership is forming, couples must navigate their own relationship, but they must also set the tone for the whole family. They lead their kids and themselves through the transition into a blended family. Couples have to forge their own, unique parenting style and possibly navigate their ex’s parenting. If they have never parented before, they need to learn and implement those skills. If they are not taking on a parenting role, then they need to clarify what role they will take in the child’s life. Any one of these challenges presents a number of difficulties, but often, couples in a blended family are navigating multiple challenges at one time.
Setting Up Counseling for Blended Families at Thriveworks Westminster
Are you ready to reach out for help? Thriveworks Westminster offers therapy for blended families. We know the challenges that can keep families from bonding, but we also know that in every challenge is an opportunity. When everyone is willing to make adjustments, it is possible to build a big, happy family. We accept many different forms of insurance, and we offer evening and weekend sessions. Let’s work together. Call for an appointment.