Are You Struggling To Create A Healthy Family System?
Are you experiencing difficulties merging two families or bringing a new partner into yours? Or, if you’ve been a blended family for a while, are there still personality, relationship, and/or communication conflicts that are affecting your ability to connect as a family? Are you, your partner, or your children struggling to accept the change, compromise, new routines and space issues that navigating a family system requires? Does your family feel out of balance? Are any of your children acting out or, alternatively, withdrawing and isolating? Have there been conflicts between you and your partner as you try to develop a family structure and communication system that blends your parenting styles? Do you wish you could find a way to meet everyone’s needs, better communicate, and create a healthy and loving family?
Blending families – initially and over time – can be a stressful, frustrating and highly emotional experience. With change comes challenge and people – especially children – can be resistant to and angry about the idea of a new family and the disruptions and uncertainties that new living and family situations can create. Blending families or integrating a new person into your family can be multi-layered, complex, and take time. Personalities, parenting styles and space needs can clash. Communication can be strained, destructive, misunderstood or nonexistent. And, children can feel angry, abandoned or unheard, which can lead to uncharacteristic behaviors and complex emotions.
Conflict Within Blended and Step Families Is Common
Change is hard – no matter how conscious and communicative a family is. And, blending families or adding someone into a family system can create significant and frustrating challenges. It’s normal to experience bumpy spots and struggles between family members and in the family system as a whole. Children respond to what is familiar and, even if the change is good, they can be resistant, rebellious, angry or scared. Navigating a new system, adapting to ongoing developmental stages, and not knowing what’s next can be hard not only for your children, but for you and your partner as well. Families are a place for love and safety, but blending and integrating can be difficult and creating a healthy family system can take time. Even if it’s been months or years since you blended your family, continuing conflicts within the system are not uncommon. Thankfully, therapy can provide a useful and effective opportunity to come together and create a healthier family structure and system that works better for everyone.
Therapy Can Help Improve Closeness, Communication and Clarity Within Your New Family System
Therapy with an expert in counseling for step / blended family issues can be a wonderful resource to help you create a family structure and dynamic that considers everyone’s unique needs and personalities. With help, negativity and blame can shift to cooperation and support. Positive intentions can be teased out of conflicts, tensions and stress. And, a healthy family framework can be created.
Every family is different and your experienced and highly trained BPS therapist will meet you and your family where you are. Your therapist can help you build a family structure, bridge communication difficulties, and blend values. In therapy, each member of your family will have the space and time to tell his or her story and express feelings, needs and challenges. Together, you can identify the pressing issues that need to be addressed. You can work on communication skills, develop empathy and strategize ways to blend values, schedules and needs. Your therapist can help point out your strengths and resources, which can encourage feelings of engagement and create a sense of hopefulness. Your therapist can also acknowledge and honor the wounds, grief and frustration that can come with change. Ultimately, in therapy, you can increase understanding, develop practical skills to improve relationships, increase closeness, and co-create a system that better addresses and supports everyone’s needs.
The conflicts your family is experiencing now can be better understood and used as a blueprint to build something new and healthier that feels more comfortable for all members of your family. Even if your situation feels unworkable and unmanageable now, therapy can create a new dynamic that respects and celebrates everyone as individuals as well as your family as a whole. In time and with the right therapist, it is possible to make changes. Communication can improve and values and routines can blend. With help, you can create a family system that feels and functions well for everyone now and in the long-term.
But, you still may have questions or concerns…
I’m concerned that therapy will shine a light on all that’s going wrong and make everyone feel worse.
Your fear is very real and understandable – and, you may be right. Oftentimes, things can get worse before they can get better. But, things can get better. While therapy can bring to light sadness, anger, and pain, stuffing these emotions away will not relieve them. And, left untreated, these emotions can fester and related problem behaviors can worsen.
The underlying emotions that are causing your family pain are there whether you acknowledge them or not. The good news is that once painful feelings are acknowledged and addressed, healing can begin. Therapy can help you identify negative patterns and behaviors before they become more entrenched. A structure that works well for your family can be created. Increased love, joy and connections can occur. Making this commitment to change and the hard work it can require can not only get your family functioning better sooner, but it can also help create a healthier framework for the future.
I’m feeling defeated, hopeless and overwhelmed. I’m not sure that anything – even therapy – can help our family.
Therapy can be an extremely helpful, useful, and supportive resource as you try to make changes within your family. And, change is possible.
Your BPS therapist can help you address what feels unworkable, why it feels unmanageable and what can be done differently. You may be surprised by how simple tools and strategies can begin to create a noticeable shift in your family dynamic. Oftentimes, families come to therapy and learn that their situation is much more workable than they initially believed.
I think my family could benefit from therapy, but I’m concerned about costs.
This is your family’s lives and wellbeing. Addressing everyone’s mental and emotional health and ability to connect now can lead to both immediate and long-term results. It can also prevent difficulties within the family from getting worse and behaviors from becoming entrenched as your children get older.
Many people come to BPS having worked with other therapists who were not trained to work specifically with blended and step family issues or who they or their family couldn’t relate with – which is a waste of time and money. At BPS, we’ll conduct an initial assessment and match your family with a therapist who is trained and experienced to work with blended and step families and whose personality is a good match for your family. Once you find that good match, making a commitment to your partner, children and yourself may be one of the most valuable investments there is. Imagine everyone in your home feeling and functioning better now and in the long-term on a regular basis and ask yourself what that’s worth.
If money is still an issue, you can talk with your BPS therapist to see if they work on a sliding scale. They may also be able to help you find other lower cost resources in the community.
We encourage you to schedule an initial assessment with Dr. Jan Hittelman. Jan will work with you to determine what your family’s specific issues are and to ensure a good match between you, your family and a BPS therapist in terms of personality, style and expertise.
You can also check out our free, online therapist directory, which will match you and your family with a therapist who has expertise working with blended and step family issues.