As this new year begins, things may look different for children and families that live in blended families. Often, blended families occur when the family of origin (the original family created) changes and becomes the family of creation (or new family).
This can occur because of a death of a parent or also when parents decide to divorce and either remain single or engage in a new relationship with a new partner who they may eventually marry. Despite the way your family of creation formed, it should not be overlooked that this type of situation can be stressful, sad, and challenging for all or many of the family members involved.
Initially after parents tell their children that they have decided that they are going to split up, they develop a plan to either take a temporary break or split from one another or they have already decided to end the marriage indefinitely.
Some parents wait until they decide the marriage has ended to tell their children they are splitting up, which can be abrupt and especially hard to deal with. A divorce is an especially challenging time for everyone in the family and it is likely to present many challenges for years to come for all family members.
One of the first things you can do to help manage difficult feelings surrounding divorce, is talk to your parents and siblings about the situation if you feel comfortable doing so. You can also rely on a trusted friend to talk to during this difficult time or perhaps someone at school that you can trust such as a guidance counselor.
It is also highly recommended that during and after a divorce occurs, that each family seek individual therapy for their own healing and growth and then eventually family therapy to repair any damage that was caused to the family from the divorce.
Sometimes, therapists and other specialist recommend co-parenting counseling for both parents to try and help teach them healthy ways to interact with each other, their children and how to run and maintain two homes in a smooth fashion.
Whatever the case may be, just know that you are not alone, and it there are many people out there to help you deal with your feelings. The biggest step that one must take in this process is first asking and seeking for help from the appropriate person.
If a child feels scared talking to their parents about the subject they can always write their parents a letter or have this conversation in a family therapy session to gain support and guidance on what the next steps should be to ensure everyone in the family remains healthy and safe.
By Amber Sanner, MS, LMFT