Blended Family: Why does this feel like a crisis?

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Family therapy experts see crises with teens in a blended family more commonly than one might think.  Teens often have their own personal ways of coping with change and don’t understand how to express their grievances appropriately.  Yet, on the flip side, we as parents often have trouble listening to our teens’ frustrations, especially when we need to.  If you have been having challenges in this area, we have a few tips that we know may help.

Family Therapy Specialist Tips for Blended Families


Hear Your Teen Out

If your family is blended, it is important to realize that this entire journey is traumatic for your child. While this was not how the family was to be originally designed, unforeseen circumstances led to the breakdown of the initial family unit.  

According to the ACE Study that gives us perspectives on adverse childhood experiences, childhood trauma can occur anytime a child experiences separation or divorce between parents.

There are a number of emotions that are often experienced when separation happens. The teen is often unable to express what they are feeling in words. This is why we often see certain negative behaviors in teen.  Instead of taking this as a sign that your child is rude. Take some time to sit down, listen, and allow them to express what emotions they are experiencing at that moment.

At times, it may be important to lead out by expressing, “I know that there have been a lot of changes going on in our home, I just want to let you know that we are not perfect, but if there is anything that you need to talk about at any time, please don’t hesitate to let me know.  The last thing that I want is for the choices I make in my personal relationships to impact ours. I love you.”

Be Clear On Who Is First Priority

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This is often difficult for some parents to swallow, but the reality is that the order of priority starts with the parents first and then the children. When parents are not clear about the order of the home, children can quickly take it over.  

Each child needs to feel the love of both parents, blended or not, but they must also understand that they fall second.  Upon discovering they can disrupt the order of the home, children will easily manipulate and maneuver themselves to dominate the relationship with their parents. Like in nature, children need to recognize the role of the alpha male, alpha female, and then them.

offspring. The relationship with the children will never survive unless the parents’ relationship is built on a strong foundation. Furthermore, teenagers learn how to parent from adults. To sustain healthy psycho-relationships throughout the family line, teenagers and adolescents must understand the order of the home.

Understand Your Teen May Have Resentment that Family Therapy in Huntsville, AL could help with. 

Like with any other relationships that experience a break-up, teenagers and adolescents in the blended family may experience resentment.  There may be resentments that the child has concerning the parent’s responsibility for the break up with their mother or father. The child may experience resentment concerning the step-parent now being a figure of authority.  The teenager may also have significant resentments concerning their perception of how the step-parent favors or gives more attention to their own biological child. 

Regardless of whether or not the child is correct in their opinion about what they have or have not observed, they are entitled to their own feelings and experience. Instead of telling them they are wrong, allow them to speak about their resentments and hear them out.  Discuss these areas of concern with your partner, and create solutions to support the child while they are working through the change.

Stage The Discipline of the Step-Parent

An image of a teen covering her ears while her parents argue. If you can relate to this, family therapy in Huntsville, Alabama may be what can help you!

If your blended family is new, it is important that you stage how the step-parent will discipline the child.  In every family with teens, the reality is that the relationship between the teenager and the parent is already somewhat fractured due to the child progressively maturing into adulthood and becoming more independent. The teen’s experience of navigating into adulthood can be a crisis in itself. When a step-parent is added to the mix, there needs to be a firm set of rules that both parents have established together concerning the discipline of the teen.

When there are no set rules for how discipline will be exercised, expect a disruptive mood and negative behaviors from your child. It is essential that both parents are in agreement on how discipline will be carried out. Defining the order of discipline will reduce conflict between the parents and the child. The teen should also know what discipline looks like from the step-parent so they know what to expect.

Fix The Weak Links

I remember when I was a young child, we used to play this game in elementary school where we would all make a straight line holding hands. There would be two lines of kids established. One person from each side would take turns running through the opposing line, hoping to unlock the hands of two kids on the other side to break the line. The strategy was to find the weakest person or two people to penetrate the line so that you can get through to win.

BA happy family in the kitchen representing the peace and love you and your blended family can find in family therapy in Huntsville, Alabama! e reminded that this is often the strategy used by children, especially when they become disruptive, act out, throw tantrums and exhibit negative behaviors in the home. They are positioning themselves to observe the weakest link so they can run through and take a position.

The teen is young, and they have underdeveloped minds. Their little mind tells them that this is the best way to have their needs met. As parents, we are more mature and knowledgeable, and we must understand that we cannot be the weak link. 

The weak link often weakens the home; however, being a solid link is not a one-man or woman show. Establishing strong links in the family unit is a collaboration between partners. Parents, step-parents, and co-parents must blend together and establish a strong link in each home.  Each unit must stand in position so the home can maintain a functional foundation. 

Find Family Therapy in Huntsville, AL, for your Teenager

Teenagers frequently isolate their feelings. Even after all the above interventions are used, teenagers may still not talk. Finding a therapist or counselor for your teenager may increase your child’s chance of success. Using a trained therapist who specializes in working with teenagers and adolescents creates a safe space where voice is heard.

Focus on your Own Mental Health

An image of two people talking about the difficulties of blended families. Family therapy in Huntsville, Alabama may be what can help you!

Parents often get so caught up in resolving problems in their homes that they forget about themselves. 

Our mental health is important too, but it is often easily taken for granted.  We often find ourselves very irritable, frustrated, and overwhelmed about trying to please everyone.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, looking into finding a therapist or counselor may not be a bad idea. Your mental health is important, and you don’t have to do this alone. Counseling often helps parents to recognize that they are getting things right more than they recognize.

Get support from Blended Family Therapy in Huntsville, AL!

Invest the time in finding a good therapist or counselor who will listen to your concerns. Counseling or therapy can also help families deal with issues, whether blended or not. Creating a strong family unit requires hearing from parents and teens or adolescents. To start your therapy journey with Aspire Counseling, follow these simple steps:

  1. Learn more about our services.
  2. Book an Appointment with our team
  3. Get busy enjoying your blended family life!

Other Services and Support

If what you have read feels close to home, you could use some additional support, call us. We have a team of therapists and coaches who are ready to do whatever you need to support you in your situation. We have therapists and coaches who specialize support individuals who have concerns regarding codependency, anger management, couples counseling, eating disorders, and more.  Aspire Counseling & Consulting Services also offers online therapy anywhere in the state of Alabama.  Give us a call, and we can help.

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1955 Rideout Dr. Ste 400
Huntsville, AL 35806
(256) 212-0567

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