Blended families can accentuate differences more than non-blended families. Family counseling can be especially helpful in these instances where individual differences create conflict and distance. Counseling provides a safe place where family roles, rules, and interpersonal dynamics can be understood. These along with honoring individual and collective developmental stages lay the ground work for change. Change is the goal of family counseling, the kind of change that leads to peace, harmony, and healthy supportive relationships in a blended family.
Whether it’s parenting, co-parenting, step-parents, biological parents, extended family caregivers, or trusted others, it is essential for children to understand expectations, boundaries, and consequences in a consistent loving manner. Central to working with blended families is creating congruence among all leaders and caregivers for the children. Through congruence and consistency a family culture is established that fosters respect and trust. Respect and trust are qualities that children will use to build their self-esteem upon. By doing this the tension among siblings and other family subsystems is reduced and conflict is less complex because leadership or the executive subsystem has the respect needed to foster order within the family.
Children’s Need for Security and Confidence in the Family System
The addition of a new step-parent into a family can be a challenge for children. Stability of the family is threatened unless clear roles and rules are defined and lived out within the new family structure. Issues as simple as what to call the new parent can be critical in establishing a secure space of children to thrive.
The question of loyalty is related to security. What roles does the ex-spouse have in the child’s life now that there is a new parent figure in the house? Emotions rooted in deep attachment need to be recognized and managed accordingly. Children need understanding about how the new parent will fit into the relationship between the biological parents. All this does not happen immediately and there is not one way to do it but a clear plan needs to be defined. Otherwise children will get confused and loyalties will be divided.
Dr. Thomas has worked with parents from all types of families including blended families. An essential part of the counseling process is to establish rapport and trust with the family. Dr. Thomas brings vast experience and theoretical knowledge to this work. He is a professor of Family Systems and can bring this knowledge and experience to bear to help your family achieve peace and harmony.
Please view the Resources page to see books that can be helpful for blended families.
Invest in Your Relationship
Dr. Thomas has worked with hundreds of individuals and couples to resolve conflicts and move to a place of harmony and well-being. When you are looking for help with couples therapy or coaching it is critical that you work with a therapist or coach that understands the differences between couples and individual work. Dr. Thomas is a couples therapy and coaching specialist.
Get Help Sooner than Later
Couples therapy or coaching can be life changing. You owe it yourself, your partner, your family, and your community to work on the loving relationship which you intended from the beginning. Contact Dr. Thomas for a consultation to learn how you can transform your relationship into one that grows and thrives.