Monique Smith, Marriage and Family Therapist
22 January 2021
The bumpy and beautiful moments in blending families:
New beginnings can bring feelings that range from excitement to anxiety and everything in between. When the new beginning is the blending of two families, it takes patience, trust, grace, empathy and the ability to laugh often. These are just the ingredients to start the blending!
Two families joining in marriage is an event to celebrate but you must also remember that every member of the family will share in this event (ideally by choice). Be mindful that every member of the family will experience it differently and have their own thoughts and emotions regarding it. Acknowledging this together as a couple is an essential part of blending.
It is important that children are encouraged to share their thoughts and emotions privately with their parent, and if they desire, they should be encouraged to share with the soon to be stepparent or in the blended family setting. Making this a conversation starter privately between the child and parent could offer the support that they need to be heard. This also opens the discussion that trust and privacy is still possible with the parent whom they feel most comfortable with.
The goal and gain of this is creating a space for children to express their thoughts and emotions in a safe and accepting space.
It is important to recognize that for a ‘New Beginning’ to commence, it means the end of another relationship. The loss experienced could be the result of divorce, the death of a spouse/parent, or family separations through court involvement. Either way, the child is also processing a loss and taking a journey into something new. Acknowledging this as a family is vital for establishing a new bond in the family.
There are many elements to blending families. We briefly touched on one aspect that helps start the process. As a Marriage & Family Therapist, I encourage couples that are considering marriage and blending families to seek premarital counseling with a family therapist that is experienced in blended families. This proactive approach will help build trust among the family system and equip parents and stepparents on handling challenges positively and effectively.
Pre-marital family counseling can be a fun experience that builds excitement and calms anxieties while giving everyone a voice. It will always be easier to be proactive with plans, prevention and tools to use when challenges arise than to make repair attempts and rebuild trust after the fact.
As a Marriage & family Therapist at A Peaceful Mind Counseling Group, our team is trained to work with families and establish healthy blended family systems.