Couples in a blended family often find themselves insufficiently equipped to
cope with the complex challenges they face. For parents who have transitioned
through the loss of a significant relationship, the path navigating new
relationships in a blended family can be laden with unexpected challenges.
When a person brings children from a previous relationship into a new
partnership it’s common for some to assume the new family will operate in the
same way a typical first family does where both biological parents are present.
The new blended family is made up of smaller family units who share blood ties. The blood connection is typically stronger than the step connection. Under pressure, there is a tendency for the blended family to divide along biological lines. Blending therefore becomes a journey of building relationships. It requires time, effort, commitment and plenty of patience.
A crucial step to assist blended families on their journey is setting realistic expectations. This topic is covered in the first of six sessions during the Blended Family Success One Day Workshop. Realistic expectations help couples focus on what they can change and acknowledge what is unlikely to change. Understanding realistic expectations ensures couples set themselves up to succeed rather than becoming discouraged, guilt ridden or blame driven if the reality of the situation doesn’t eventuate as they imagined.
Each workshop session is about an hour long with topics including keys to creating and sustaining a strong couple relationship, resolving conflict, co-parenting peacefully with an ex-partner, essential parenting strategies and helping children adjust.
Children have been through three life changing upheavals; the loss of their biological parent’s relationship, the switch to living in a single parent household and the transition into the new blended family. They need help and reassurance to cope with change.
The good news is that you can create the kind of environment in your home where children are able to forge deep ties. Children who feel secure and connected can and do flourish in a stepfamily, however, you will need to be proactive in helping them adjust.
Just as important to your blended family’s success, is the strength of your couple relationship. Strong families are built on a strong relationship. This is the foundation of your family. The truth is, your relationship will only ever be as good as the effort you are prepared to put in; effort reaps enduring rewards.
Research shows us that through an intimate couple relationship, healing can take place. Your current relationship can become a safe place where you learn to bond, love and trust in a new way. If you or a family member is a little ‘worse for wear’ by the circumstances life has thrown your way, your new family becomes a corrective learning experience.
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