Olivia Rowlatt

Sex and Relationship Therapist (COSRT Accredited)

Step families

Step families can be complicated.

When families “blend” to create stepfamilies, things rarely progress smoothly.

Trying to make space for everyone can seem like a impossible conundrum.

Often children resist changes.

Parents can become frustrated when the new family doesn’t function like their previous family.

Changes to family structure require adjustment time for everyone involved.

step families can be complicated. couple counselling is helpful. Bath, Bristol, Trowbridge step families find therapy helps. Sex therapy heals difficulties. Blended families is a new name for step families. Marriage guidance is useful when children are challenging.

Tips for strengthening step families

    1. Create clear, safe boundaries in step families. Clear boundaries support the building of trust.
      • Possibly establish the step parent as more of a friend or counsellor.
      • The biological parent remains primarily responsible for discipline until the step parent has developed solid bonds with the kids.
      • Create a list of family rules. Discuss the rules with the children and post them in a prominent place. Try to be consistent.
    2. Keep ALL parents involved, if you can. Children will adjust better to the new family if they have access to both biological parents. Let the kids know that you and your ex-partner will continue to love them and be there for them. Be sure they know that your new partner will not be a ‘replacement’ mom or dad, but another person to love and support them.
    3. Communicate often and openly. Uncertainty and worry about family issues often comes from poor communication. It can be helpful give some thought to what constitutes good communication. The following can help:
      • Do things together – games, sports, activities
      • Address conflict positively
      • Show affection to one another
      • Establish an open, non-judgmental atmosphere
      • Listen respectfully to each other.
    4. Use routines and rituals to bond step families. Creating family routines and rituals helps unite family members. This could include outings to favourite places, possibly a weekly game night, or special ways to celebrate a family birthday. Establishing regular family meals offers a great chance for you to talk to each other.

Every family is different. It will take time to adjust to the different ways that the people in your new family do things.

Couple counselling can be helpful if:

  • A child directs anger upon a particular family member or openly resents a step-parent or parent
  • A step-parent or parent openly favors one child over another
  • Members of the family derive no pleasure from usually enjoyable activities such as school, working, playing, or being with friends and family.

Contact me to see if I can help you with your situation. Also see my page on relationship counselling.

Contact Phillipa Bruce for counselling for young people.