Family Therapy

Upside Counseling Center assists families with a variety of counseling needs including:

Family counseling

Couples Counseling

Marriage Therapy

Premarital Counseling

Adolescent Therapy

Children’s Therapy

Stepparenting Counseling

Are Your Step Children Hard to Get Along With?

If you are in a blended family, then you know that, the whole stepparenting issue can be a frustrating one and you must deal with the complexities of stepfamily issues. The US Census Bureau says the number of stepfamilies is greater than the number of biological families, 50 percent of US families are remarriages, and 66% of remarriages that involve children fail, often because these families do not have resources or support.
Second marriages involve children, and unlike first marriages, couples did not have time to bond as a couple first. There is often a lack of a relationship between the stepchildren and stepparents which can lead to divorce. When a stepfamily is formed, the members have no history, shared memories, and may have different values and beliefs. Regardless of the child’s age most stepchildren fantasize about their parents getting back together. So the new parent is a threat to their desire for reunited family. The children may even be jealous of the stepparent getting attention that used to go toward them.
Recognize that stepfamilies are not the same as biological families. Try to sympathize with the child by remembering what you were like and needed at the child’s particular age. Try to remember what you needed from a parent. The child is often hurting, sad, anger, or lonely. Manage your expectations of creating a happy family where everyone loves one another, this may not happen automatically. Do not try to replace biological parents. Tell your child the stepparent is another person who can love them.

Some ways to bond with your new family members are:

To talk to child about and allow mourning of losses.
Help the child to maintain and nurture original biological parent –child relationships, establish civility and good will with your ex and resist the temptation to badmouth them.
Learn to communicate and make decisions as a family.
Create and strengthen new relationships between step parents and step children.
Take time to establish mutual parenting styles, then parent together for structure and consistency.
Support one another, especially when facing difficult times or challenges
Have fun with each other too!

While facing these issues may be difficult, most families work out their problems. When given time to work on developing new relationships and tradition, most family form close ties and raise children in a warm loving environment and help the children grow into responsible adults with high self esteem.

If parents observe the following signs which are lasting or persistent, then they should consider a mental health evaluation for the child/family:

The child is angry and openly resents a stepparent or parent.
A step parent or parent openly favors one of the children.
Frequent crying or withdrawal by the child.

Stepfamily counseling is appropriate for a number of circumstances; If you are experiencing persistent problems in you family life, couples who want to start their new married life off right, and stepfamilies that want to succeed at merging two families together. It is also appropriate if you are dating someone with children or you have children and are dating.

Tracey Hunt, LICSW
Federal Way, WA