In my counselling practice where I specialise in relationship and family therapy, from my over thirteen years of seeing clients in that time I have worked successfully with many blended families who have come to me for help.
In today’s modern world families come in all descriptions, long gone is family the norm of mum and dad and 2- 3 kids. Many children grow up in single parent families, with same sex couples and now many are being raised by grandparents. Blended families are where the couple have children from a previous relationship when they decide to live together and then they may also go on to have a child or children of their own.
Raising children is one of the most rewarding things anyone can do. I recently saw Ita Buttrose give a talk. Media trailblazer and 2013 Australian of the year she has had an amazing career and succeeded in the 60s and 70s as a woman in a male dominated industry, as she herself said life was very different for a working woman then. When asked what were her greatest achievements in her long career she answered without hesitation “my children are my greatest achievement”. That said it can also be the most difficult job tiring and at times exhausting.
Blended families come with their own set of extra issues and problems to try and deal with. There are the ex partners to share parenting with, financial issues and the often real problem of lack of space when all the kids are in the house. Disagreements between children with some feeling that their new step siblings are treated better than them and jealousy when there is a new addition to the family.
So here are some ideas that may help you navigate this sometimes difficult road.
- Tell the children and model the behaviour that you are now one family warts and all.
- Have regular family meetings especially when children have been with their other parent and are now staying with you.
- Get everyone involved, even the youngest children in decision making as to what are the rules for your family, division of labour, bedtimes, screen times etc. Children are more likely to stick to the rules if they have had a say in their making.
- Make sure at all times the parents are in charge so the children regardless of age can feel secure in the knowledge that mum and dad or step mum or step dad will be there for them.
- Make sure you and your partner are on the same team this may not be easy at first, as you will probably have different ways of parenting than you new partner. Discuss issues as they arise together, preferably not when the children are in earshot. It is essential that you keep the lines of communication open between you as this will help you to deal with conflict when (not if!) it arises. Learn to aim for peace and what is best for all concerned, not to win because if you win then your partner loses and ultimately no one wins. A lot of give and take will be necessary from each partner. Support each other in front of the children to show a united front.
- Try and get along with your partner’s ex. It is always very productive for all concerned if the new partner can get on or at least be civil with the former partner, this is so beneficial for the children. Sometimes this can prove difficult if the former partner does want to do this.
- When you feel out of your depth and can’t communicate and when you do its feels like your getting nowhere, seek the help of a professionally trained family and relationship therapist.
Are you a blended family who feels out of their depth and does not know where to turn?
Matters level trained relationship counsellor and educator Helen Larkey can help you. With many years of lecturing in counselling and communication as well as seeing clients she can teach you to communicate assertively and manage conflict. She sees couples face to face in the Northern Rivers of NSW and also has a home visit service for busy families so she can come to you. Make the call for a 15-minute free chat before unproductive patterns become entrenched.
For first time callers, I offer a free, confidential, 15 minute phone conversation.
My office is located at Suite 4/20 Byron Street, Bangalow, in the Northern Rivers district of New South Wales.
Contact Phone: 0438 695 310
Mobile Service Area
I also offer a mobile counselling, workshops and speaking engagements to the surrounding areas within the Northern Rivers, including;
- Byron Bay
Telephone and Internet Counselling
I work with many people around Australia and the World via the Telephone and Internet.
Please make contact so that we can exchange details and connect.