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Minneapolis, MN 55422

Living in a Blended Family

The first blended family seminar I taught in Minnesota was nearly 40 years ago. At the beginning of the second night in the seminar series in late August, a mother came up to me with this story. She was recently remarried and a new stepmother. She told me that while registering her children for the new school term, the principal asked her why the children had different last names. She told me how satisfying it was to answer his question, “We are a blended family.” Rather than, “These children are from a broken home.”

Neither homes nor stepfamilies are broken. Stepfamilies are now very common, making up 40% of married couples. Stepfamilies differ from biological families in several ways. While stepfamilies and biological families share most family challenges, there are unique features in blended families that require special considerations.

Members of blended families are often recovering from significant losses. These losses can include the loss of the original dream of marriage and family, the loss of a partner through death or divorce, the loss of an intact family, the loss of a home, the loss of income, the loss of the neighborhood school and the loss of neighborhood friends.

Blended families are often instant families. Stepparents have not shared in conversations about having children. They have not shared in a nine-month pregnancy. They have not shared the newborn experience with relatives and grandparents.

Instant family does not ensure instant love. It is unrealistic to expect stepchildren to love their stepparents the way they love their biological parents. Stepchildren have two family systems to fit into. A stepchild often loses his or her place in the new family. For example, a child may be the oldest child in their biological family but not in the blended family.

Blending families requires patience, flexibility and give-and-take. Patience is required as all members adjust to a new normal. Flexibility is required to accommodate the demands of co-parenting. Give-and-take is required because everybody’s preferences cannot always be accommodated.

40 years ago the label blended family was brand-new and soon became the preferred label to broken home. A few years later the term custody was replaced by co-parenting. While many things have changed, the emotional needs of children remain the same. It is important for all parents to pay close attention to the emotional needs of their children.

If you would like to learn more about Blended Family Counseling in the Minneapolis, MN area please don’t hesitate to call Thomas Wright and Associates Today!

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