Blended Families by Jennifer Kuchuck, MS, RMHCI

The profile of the American family has changed dramatically in the past few decades, due in large part to the high rate of divorce and consequent remarriage (Pill, 1990). However, according to U.S. Bureau of Census 40% of families are blended (2021). As a wife and mother of two bio children, two adult stepchildren, and four non bio grandchildren, I can empathize with the stressors of being a part of a blended family. The individual that shares a life with other humans subjected to the blend, may have many obstacles and limitations that may affect numerous areas of one’s life. Holidays, birthdays, finances, ex-spouses, relatives, children behavioral issues/adaption and role identity may morph into a confusing, stressful, and unknow territory. My most common expression “it is hard enough being a human being on this planet,” there are areas of one’s life that can make our human experience even more taxing.

Discussing blended families and the stress it may have on an individual or on a marriage/relationship, is very real, and an area I am very well familiar with. Although, my blended experience has been difficult and offered many challenges, it has giving me the opportunity to be on all sides of the fences. Due to my parent’s divorce and re-marrying, which offered a hodgepodge of three stepsisters and three half-sisters, I have also endured the painful and confusing transition and long-term effects of being thrown into a blended family. In addition to identifying as the child/daughter role. On the flip side I identify as a wife, ex-wife, stepmother, stepsister, stepdaughter, and mother.

One must remember, role identity and figuring out proper boundaries, is a demanding task for each family member. Most of the time, this is unexplored territory. Everyone in the blend is dealing with their own feelings, frustrations, and role confusion. During present times, there are mental health professionals, that are trained to in different theoretical approaches, that help individuals and families navigate through difficult issues. According to (Sherman,1999),
counselors assist families to recognize that even their differences can be perceived as strengths and resources when they are synthesized into more effective patterns of interacting together. Maybe this shift of thinking is the key element that can ease and bring blended loved ones together.

If you are an individual having trouble, regarding long-term blended family issues, or struggling with the transition into a blended family, I can empathize. Family cohesion and building emotional connections, may come with many risk-factors. Risk factors such as resentment, role confusion, and financial complications. There are many dynamics that play a part in blended life. The counselor’s role is to help individuals identify their role and detect their positive contributions to the blended family. On another note, counselors can aid the individual to discover the other family members attributes within the blend. One crucial component is to be patient and kind to yourself, and to other family members. Remember, this is most likely challenging for everyone involved. Seeking counseling may enhance the blended family’s functioning, and the individual facing specific challenges.

Thank you for listening : )

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