Integrating families

Integrating families

Maximising the Benefits of Family Counselling/Therapy for Blended Families

Family Counseling for Blended Families

Blended families face unique challenges that can strain relationships and create tension within the family unit. Family Counseling can be a powerful resource in navigating these difficulties, but making the most of this process requires a balanced and realistic approach. In this article, we will explore how blended families can maximise the benefits of therapy by embracing vulnerability, open-mindedness, and resilience.


The Right Therapist for Your Blended Family

Finding the right therapist is crucial for a successful counselling experience. Look for a therapist who creates a safe and comfortable environment, where every family member feels heard and respected. It may take time and a few sessions to find the right fit, so be patient and persistent in your search. Remember, the therapist should be someone who helps you feel at ease, allowing you to open up and explore difficult emotions.


Preparing for Family Counselling/Therapy

One of the keys to making the most of family counselling is being ready to confront personal contributions to the issues. This can be confronting, as it requires self-reflection and an open mind. Many individuals initially seek therapy to validate their belief that someone else needs to change. However, therapy often leads us to examine ourselves, our mindset, and our perspective. Embrace the possibility that personal growth and change may be necessary for positive outcomes.


Embracing Vulnerability and Openness

Family Counselling/therapy thrives on vulnerability and openness. It’s essential to create a safe space where family members feel comfortable expressing their thoughts, emotions, and concerns. Letting down walls and being vulnerable can be challenging, but it is in this space that healing and growth occur. Remember, therapy is a judgment-free zone where everyone is working towards positive change and understanding.


Embracing New Strategies and Approaches

To get the most out of therapy, be open to trying new strategies and approaches suggested by the therapist. This may involve challenging old habits and patterns, which can be uncomfortable at first. Understand that change takes time and patience. It may require addressing deeply ingrained behaviours and embracing new, healthier ways of relating and communicating. Be willing to put in the effort and try new approaches multiple times before determining their effectiveness.


Resilience and Persistence

Change is rarely a linear process, and setbacks may occur along the way. It’s important to remain resilient and persistent throughout the therapeutic journey. Old habits and patterns can be deeply ingrained, and it’s natural to revert to familiar but unhealthy behaviours. Remember that progress takes time and effort. Stay committed to the process, even during challenging moments, and trust in the potential for positive outcomes.



Family counseling/therapy offers blended families a valuable opportunity to address challenges, heal wounds, and strengthen their bonds. By finding the right therapist, being open and vulnerable, embracing new strategies, and cultivating resilience, blended families can make the most of their counselling experience. Remember, therapy is a collaborative effort, and positive change requires active participation from every family member.

No Comments
Integrating families Living together

How to Stop Struggling as a Bio-Mom in a Blended Family


Raising a traditional family is complicated enough on its own, and things can become even more complicated in the case of blended families. Blended families refer to families that have step-parents and/or step-siblings. As a bio-mom, managing everything in a blended family can be quite a struggle. There are several different challenges that’ll present themselves. Most women are left scratching their heads with the level of struggle that they encounter.

However, don’t worry, bio-mom, cause you’re not alone. Blended families are becoming an increasingly common occurrence, and the support groups for bio-moms are growing. While it is a struggle, it’s possible to make your life much easier as the bio-mom. We’re here to help guide you through the variety of issues you might face and reduce your struggle as a bio-mom in a blended family. Keep reading to find out more about how you can make your life easier.

The Challenges of a Bio-Mom

Before we got into how we can ease the bio-mom struggle, it’s important to look at the kinds of issues they might face. Without looking at the numerous issues in-depth, it’s quite difficult to provide solutions. So, here are some of the challenges that a bio-mom might face.

New Kids

As a parent, your natural instinct is to protect your children as much as possible. That’s where a conflict of interest might arise when the bio-mom remarries someone who has kids of their own. While it’s possible for the kids to get along, it’s common that it becomes an issue as well.

Children that become a part of a blended family have a lot going on. Sometimes it can be difficult for the bio-mom to settle in with the step-kids. It’s unfair to expect any child to be completely okay with the situation right away; it takes some time. However, even if the bio-mom struggles to connect with the kids after a significant period, it can indicate a greater issue.

If the children don’t get along with one another, it can make things even more difficult. It’s natural human instinct to put your kids first, which could lead to potentially unpleasant situations with the step-kids. If the new step-kids are acting out, it can be difficult for the bio-mom and her kids. Nothing matters more than the safety and well-being of your children.

The Stepdad

Suppose the bio-mom decides to remarry and has custody of the kids. In that case, a new challenge might be their relationship with the stepdad. It can take time for kids to warm up to their new stepdad, but things can get significantly more difficult for the bio-mom if there’s conflict.

In an argument between the kids and the stepdad, the bio-mom will feel compelled to side with her kids and offer them support. This can easily lead to arguments with the new partner and can even impact the relationship.

It’s important to discuss everything you’d expect from the partner as a stepdad and have an open discussion with the kids as well.

The other bio-mom

The challenges bio-mom faces aren’t just limited to the kids and the husband. On the other side of the fence is another bio-mom, which can become especially challenging if you don’t have a functional relationship with her.

Co-parenting is hard enough as it is, but co-parenting along with an ex-partner, makes things even more challenging. We’ve all seen those movies and dramas where the ex does everything she can to make the new woman’s life miserable. If you find yourself in one of those situations, it can be incredibly challenging.

A threatened bio-mom will rub off her attitude onto the kids as well. That can make developing a loving relationship with the new kids even more difficult.

There are so many challenges that bio-moms have to face; it can be incredibly stressful thinking about them. Now that we’ve discussed some of the challenges they encounter, we can discuss potential solutions. By implementing these solutions, you can effectively stop struggling as a bio-mom in a blended family.

How to stop your struggles and succeed in a blended family

While it might be difficult, it isn’t impossible to address the numerous challenges. Even if the situation seems dire, anything is possible with a little bit of compassion and effort. Here’s how bio moms can stop their struggles and succeed in a blended family.

Get the parenting in order

As a bio-mom starting a blended family, it’s important to understand that it can take between two to five years for a blended family to establish its dynamics. Naturally, things are going to be bumpy at the start. However, you can take a step forward and try to get to the top of things as soon as possible.

Our kids tend to be the most important parts of our lives, so you must sit down with your partner and define your expectations from each other as parents. Your partner may not be inclined towards disciplining their kids in the same style as you, and it’s important to hash out these differences and set expectations with each other.

Tell your partner how you want your kids to be treated and what role he needs to play. While it can be difficult to get everything going smoothly from the start, it’s important to have this discussion so you can help the family dynamics develop in a healthy manner.

Bonding together

Once the parenting side of things is in order, it’s a completely new task to bond together as a blended family. It takes time for stepfamilies to bond together and figure out the new dynamics of their household. The task is made more difficult when you take into consideration visitation and custody agreements.

As a bio-mom, it’s easy to take all the responsibility of the household on yourself. You can easily fall into this trap of blaming yourself for not being able to connect with the step-kids. In your attempts to improve your bond with step-kids, you might risk your own kids thinking you’re ignoring them!

It’s important to remember that you’re not going to get anywhere by forcing things. Something as simple as reading stories together at night or taking trips to the playground can help blended families bond effectively. It’s also important to develop return rituals because the kids might be spending a lot of time at different houses. By establishing these new rituals, you can show the step-kids that you’re not just someone that lives in the house; you’re their parent as well!

Above all, what’s important to remember is that the relationship between the adult partners matters the most in a blended family. Make sure that you connect with your partner as much as possible. That’ll give your kids more incentive to bond and spend time with their new step-parent. The stronger the relationship between the two adult partners, the easier it is to bond together as a family.

As a bio-mom, discuss all family matters with your partner. It’s a good idea to decide on some time in advance to discuss family issues. At every meeting, don’t start with an avalanche of issues. Take it one or two at a time. Also, after every meeting, set aside time where you and your partner can appreciate one another and bond.

Dealing with the past

A bio-mom in a blended family has to deal with a lot of stress because of the past. Whether it be your ex or your partner’s ex, things can quickly become a struggle if you’re not careful. In an ideal world, every household that kids visit would have the same rules and values as yours. However, that’s not the case, but there isn’t much that you can do about this.

Instead of embracing the conflict, you must try to harmonize with your ex or your partner’s ex. Communication is the most important tool, and in a way, all of you come together to form one big team. That’s why it’s important to learn to communicate as a team. Not only will you set a great example for your biological kids, but your step-kids will also bond with you more readily if you can have a harmonious relationship with previous exes.

Try to always be available to co-parents when they’re looking to call. That doesn’t mean drop everything and attend to them the minute they call, but keep your communication lines open. By finding peace in your relationships outside your house, you give yourself a greater chance of living in harmony with your blended family.


Being a bio-mom in a blended family can be a struggle. Having to juggle your previous relationship, new relationship, biological kids, and step kids is enough to overwhelm anyone. However, with the right amount of effort and communication, your struggles as a bio-mom will become a thing of the past. It might seem like tedious amounts of scheduling and communication. Still, it’ll all be worth it when your family life runs smoothly, and your struggles as bio-mom are over!

No Comments
Integrating families Living together

Blended Families: Navigating Challenges and Celebrating Love

Blended Family

In today’s world, families come in all shapes and sizes. Blended families, in particular, have become more common than ever before. Whether formed through remarriage or the blending of families for the first time, they offer a unique set of joys and challenges for all involved. While they can be tough to navigate, blended families also offer the opportunity to create a loving and supportive environment for all members. In this article, we will explore the advantages and disadvantages of blended families, the challenges faced by parents and children, and strategies for creating a successful and happy blended family.


Advantages of Blended Families

Blended families come with their own set of benefits, including:

  • More role models for children to emulate
  • Financial stability with multiple sources of income
  • Higher levels of happiness for parents who have remarried
  • Opportunities for children to learn to adapt to change


Disadvantages of Blended Families

Despite the advantages, blended families can also present challenges, such as:

  • Potential sibling rivalries
  • Mixed feelings towards step-parents
  • Financial difficulties
  • Differences in parenting styles


Challenges for Parents in a Blended Family

Blending two families together can be a difficult process. Parents may face the following challenges:

  • Accepting Your Role as a New Parent: Trying to balance parenting and bonding with stepchildren can be a source of stress.
  • Parental Insecurities: As a step-parent, you may feel anxious about how the children compare you to their natural parent.
  • Relationship with Ex-Partners and Step-Parents: The relationship with ex-partners and step-parents can be challenging to navigate, particularly if children wish to keep in touch with their biological parent.

Challenges for Children in a Blended Family

  • Children can experience several challenges in blended families, including:
  • Difficulties in Accepting the New Parent: Children may take more time to accept the new parent.
  • Changes in Family Traditions: The new parent may have different ideas on how to celebrate events like birthdays, vacations, or holidays, which may affect children who are not used to the routine.
  • Changes in Family Relationships: Children may find themselves in new positions within the family, which can be challenging.


Strengthening a Blended Family

Blended families can thrive when parents are committed to making them work. Some strategies for making a blended family work include:

  • Having a plan for the family
  • Acknowledging and coping with challenges
  • Open communication with your partner
  • Developing a personal relationship with all children in the family



Blended families can be challenging, but they also offer the opportunity to create a loving and supportive environment for all members. If you have experience with blended families, we would love to hear from you in the comments section below. What challenges have you faced? How have you overcome them? By sharing your experiences, you can help others who are navigating the complexities of a blended family. Together, we can build a community of support and resources for blended families around the world.

No Comments
Integrating families Living together

Welcoming a New Baby Into Your Blended Family

Family of 4 06 with new baby scaled

Bringing a new baby into a blended family is exciting, but it can also be a little anxiety-inducing. It can be tough for the kids to understand the new dynamic. They may have struggled with creating your blended family in the first place; accepting a new stepparent, maybe a new house, and possibly new stepsiblings. Now there’s a new baby in the mix. You may also receive unwelcome input from family members, your ex, your partner’s ex, or other ‘well-meaning’ outsiders.

The important thing is to celebrate the news of a new baby, while doing your best to prepare your blended family for the changes that are coming. Here is some advice to guide you (plus a story from a mom who’s been there!).

How do the kids feel about a new baby joining the blended family?

You and your partner are probably over the moon about this news, but more likely than not, it’s tempered by concern over how the kids might react. If they’re young, they might be quite excited at the idea of a baby, since they don’t have the ability to anticipate how life will change once the baby arrives. Older children will quickly come to understand how this might impact them and therefore may not be very excited.

How might they react? On one hand, a new baby can feel like an anchoring point for the family. After all, he or she will be the first member of the family who is biologically related to everybody. This can give your kids a sense of togetherness that the family may have been missing before.

On the other hand,  children may feel threatened at the idea of welcoming a new baby. The fact that this baby will have both its biological parents in the same house may cause jealousy or resentment.  Common concerns for kids include the fear of losing your attention, as well as the possibility that you could love the baby more than them, or that the baby will be more part of the family than they are.  A new baby can heighten the feeling that while the blended family kids are ‘yours’ and ‘mine’, the new baby is ‘ours’.

It can be hard to hear that your children have thoughts like this, but  it’s important to talk to them so you can help them process any negative feelings about the new baby in your blended family.

How to prepare stepchildren for a new baby in a blended family

Before the baby comes:

You might feel like you want to delay the news as long as possible, in order to avoid uncomfortable situations.  But the earlier you talk about this as a family, the more time you have to process it together. It’s a good idea to speak to your children about the possibility of a new sibling if you decide to try for a baby.  Bringing it up early and speaking of it in a positive light can help give them time to get used to the idea and create positive associations.  That way if you and your partner do fall pregnant, they’ve already had the opportunity to process the idea and it doesn’t come as a shock.

If you and your partner are already expecting and haven’t had the chance to speak to your kids about the possibility of a new sibling, that’s okay. You’re not too late.  As a general rule, the more time they have to process, the better. So start NOW!

It can be a great idea to include your child in planning and preparations for the new baby. This can be everything from buying new baby clothes, picking colours for the nursery, aww-ing over ultrasound images, feeling the baby kick, and brainstorming baby names. Make sure that they feel included and like they are part of the new baby excitement, rather than just witnessing it from outside.

This can also be a great time to make your children feel special. Buying them a new toy, making them their favorite meal for dinner, or dedicating some special time to bond as a family can make a big difference. Talk about how much you love them, and how much their new sibling will love them too. It’s important that they feel your love so they don’t worry you will have less of it for them once the new baby comes.

If your children are experiencing anxiety or fear about what’s to come, glossing over it or pushing it aside is never a good idea. Instead, talk openly about their worries and make sure they feel validated and heard. These feelings are completely legitimate and they need to have the space to feel them. Your job is to create a safe environment for your children to feel and express their emotions and to address them as they come up. Listening – and some comforting words and hugs – can be incredibly healing.

After the baby comes

Once the new baby arrives, it’s only natural that a huge chunk of the parents’ time, attention, and energy will go toward caring for him or her. This means that you need to be extra careful that your older children don’t feel neglected. Doing your best to keep their routines as consistent as possible will help to minimize their feelings of disruption.

This is the perfect opportunity for your children or stepchildren to learn about being a good big brother or sister. No matter their age, you can let them hold and kiss the baby, learning how to be gentle with him or her. And if your kids are a bit older, get them to help out with things. Younger kids love to feel useful, so give them jobs like fetching diapers, finding a toy, or passing you things if you have a sleeping baby on you. Older kids can push the stroller, give a bottle, or read to the baby.

After the arrival of the new baby, try to continue having one on one time with your other children. Things as simple as going on a walk or watching a movie together can ensure they feel that they can still count on your love and attention. This can also be a good time to check in with your child about how they’re feeling and see if they need any reassurance. Remember,all feelings are valid!

Don’t overthink it!

We just gave you a whole lot to think about so this may sound counterintuitive, but it’s true! It’s an exciting time, and having a new baby entails enough logistics, so don’t overthink the other stuff. Prepare the kids, but don’t waste time worrying about what ‘might’ happen when the baby arrives. Don’t dampen your excitement because you’re worried about upsetting other people. You and your partner are allowed to celebrate this, and if you try to mute it you may end up feeling resentful.

No Comments
Integrating families

Blended Family Holiday Season: How to Maintain Your Sanity

blended family holiday season

Forget the most wonderful time of the year; in a blended family, the holiday season can be the most challenging time of the year! Whatever holiday you celebrate, if you have to negotiate shared custody these events can be full of emotion. There are some commonly faced issues, and we’ve got tips on how to navigate them.

Blended Family Holiday Tips:

  1. Which parent are the kids spending the holiday with?
    If you share custody with your ex-partner, you’ll want to have this conversation early! Open with your suggestion, but make it clear you understand that your ex also wants to spend time with the children. Some families opt for alternating who gets the kids each year; this is probably the most practical solution if you don’t live close to each other. If you do live in the same area, you may be able to split their time over the day/s.
  2. You can’t please everyone, so don’t try
    It can be tricky to organize holiday logistics at the best of times, but with a blended family, you may have twice as many stakeholders! Your parents may put pressure on you to bring the kids to family celebrations, even though it’s your ex’s turn to have them. Maybe you have bio kids and stepkids and they have to separate for the holidays even though they’d rather be together. If you try to please everyone, you’ll likely spend your time caught up in logistics (and still everyone won’t be happy). Prioritize what you need to, and try to ignore everything else.
  3. Don’t communicate through your children
    Telling your ex your plans for Christmas day might be the last thing you want to do, but relying on or forcing your kids to pass information to your ex isn’t fair on them. Keep it as brief as you need to, but make sure you and your ex communicate directly about any logistics.
  4. Acknowledge the stress of blended family holiday celebrations
    Your kids might be more anxious than they’re letting on, so it’s important to let them know you understand that holiday time can be stressful. They might be worried about missing the parent they’re not spending time with or stressed about having to move around to different houses and families during holiday celebrations. Letting them know that it’s ok to feel stressed and that they can talk to you will help.
  5. Respect everyone’s traditions
    Not everyone celebrates in the same way; perhaps you and your kids had a certain holiday routine, but your partner and their kids did things differently. Try to incorporate both traditions, or have a family chat to talk about how you can merge your traditions.
  6. Compare notes on gifts
    For holidays like Christmas where gift-giving is involved, it’s a good idea for you and your ex to go over your kids’ wishlists together. This way you can make sure you’re not doubling up and can discuss spending limits if necessary.
  7. Remember why you celebrate
    It can be easy to get caught up in trying to make things perfect, trying to make sure everyone is happy, and the sheer logistics of it all. Christmas, Hannukah, Thanksgiving, Deepavali, Hari Raya… these holidays are harder to navigate as a blended family. But focus on why you celebrate, and what you want to pass on to your kids. Help your kids celebrate, even if it’s over FaceTime because it’s not your turn to have them.

Your blended family holiday season might be challenging, but there will be moments of joy in amongst the chaos. Don’t let the petty disagreements and tricky logistics weigh you down, find the happiness and lean into it!

Image via Pexels

No Comments
Integrating families Living together

Blended Family Problems: When Your Blended Family Won’t Blend

blended family problems family white fence

Blended families are common but that doesn’t make them easy; so what do you do when your blended family problems seem insurmountable?! Despite all our hard work and good intentions, sometimes two families just don’t mix together well. If you find yourself in such a situation, it may feel a little scary and daunting. How can you make everybody get along and, well… blend together smoothly?

The good news is that this situation is not unusual or impossible to solve. If you know what red flags to look out for, you can identify what to work on in order to resolve the problems that are standing in the way of allowing your blended family to thrive. Here are some tips from parents who’ve been there…

Signs of blended family problems

The first step to improving your blended family problems is to identify if things aren’t blending well. Here are some signs to look out for:

  • When stepsiblings don’t get along
    Sibling rivalry is standard in all families, but it can get especially problematic in blended families when brothers and sisters don’t have the bond of a lifelong relationship to help them set aside their differences.
  • When jealousy rears its head
    There are many ways jealousy can manifest in a blended family. Maybe your children are jealous of your new partner, feeling that they are taking your attention away from them. Maybe there is jealousy between the stepsiblings. Heck, you may even feel jealous of the blood bond between your partner and their children that you don’t have with your stepkids.
  • When parenting styles don’t mix
    There are so many different approaches to parenting and the one you have may not automatically go hand-in-hand with that of your partner. Your blended family may experience some hiccups and confusion if your parenting styles are at odds.
  • When new behavioural problems appear
    If your children suddenly show signs of behavioral problems like defiance or aggression that weren’t there before, it may be related to the growing pains of a blended family.
  • When there is an obvious split in the household
    The goal of a blended family is to blend. If you find that everybody keeps to “their” side of the family, it’s most likely an issue.

Red flags for blended families

All of the problems listed above are on the general side, so here are some specific examples of red flag scenarios that may point to a need to work on the “blending” part of your blended family.

  • Your stepchildren don’t listen to you or respect your authority, or the same is the case for your biological children and their stepparent.
  • Family gatherings and meals are tense and uncomfortable.
  • Stepsiblings don’t speak to one another.
  • Siblings gang up on and exclude their step-sibling(s).
  • You and your partner can’t agree on rules for the household.
  • Your step-children only ask their biological parent for permission and help and don’t come to you – or vice versa with your partner.
  • Your blended family has a hard time agreeing upon things such as what activity to do, what places to go to, and so on.

Naturally, there are many more red flags that can be cause for concern, but these examples should help you get a sense of what to watch out for.

Resolving Blended Family Problems

If you’re reading this and finding yourself nodding along to some of the problems and red flags listed above, you don’t have to panic. Your blended family may not be in its ideal place right now, but there are solutions to every problem. Here are some steps you can take to address the issues you may have mixing your families.

Show a united front

Children will follow their parent’s example and if you and your partner aren’t completely unified, chances are the kids will also feel comfortable acting like they’re not a solid family unit. Make sure that you and your partner put in the effort to stay consistent and act together. Don’t contradict each other’s rules or negate each other’s parenting styles. It may take a lot of long, even difficult, conversations to get on the same page about the rules and standards you want to put in place for your household. This is an effort that is not only worth making but is absolutely critical to make in order to allow your blended family to truly blend.

Respect the old

Transitioning to a blended family can be threatening for children who may fear the loss of a previous lifestyle that they were attached to. Your kids might miss how things used to be, leading to a rejection of the new. Make sure that you don’t try to pretend the past never happened. Respect the traditions that you had before. Sure, some things will have to change, but that doesn’t have to mean letting go of everything your kids loved about your family’s previous iteration. Letting them hold on to some traditions can be a great comfort.

Build the new

That being said, building new family traditions can be incredibly exciting! Finding common ground between what both sides of the family like can be a fun process that leads to exciting revelations. Maybe you’ll start doing taco night every Tuesday or playing soccer together on the weekends. The future is full of possibilities for your blended family, so why not enjoy the process of discovering what your new traditions and customs will be? Let your kids take an active part and even lead the way forward so they feel invested in and excited by their family’s future instead of alienated by it.

Take your time

Of course, change takes time. Getting used to the new isn’t easy for anybody, especially not kids who haven’t experienced too many major life changes. It’s okay if things take a while and there are some bumps in the road. Respect and validate your children’s feelings. Try to talk things out openly instead of sweeping them under the rug. You’re all in this together, and the process may be slow-going. That’s perfectly fine.

Ask for help

Sometimes family problems go beyond what you can handle on your own, and that is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. If you’re at a loss and none of what you are trying seems to help, it’s a fantastic idea to reach out and seek professional help. Family counselors and therapists are trained to help you overcome difficult issues. Even just one or two meetings with a counselor might make you feel much better.

Alls well that ends well

It’s no secret that getting a blended family to cooperate and get along can be challenging. If that’s your experience, you aren’t alone. Many blended families experience problems like a lack of harmony or even jealousy, bullying, and defiance. But if you know what signs to look out for and approach your issues with patience, candor, and good intentions, you’ll be able to get through this.

Image via Pexels

No Comments
Integrating families

Are Stepgrandparents Important in Blended Families?

Granparents kids scaled

Being a child in a blended family can be tough enough at times, even before you add confusion over new relationships like stepgrandparents, step-aunts and uncles. It can be a lot for kids to handle, so if you’re introducing stepgrandparents, take it slowly and be patient. Here are some of the top questions people ask about stepgrandparenting and blended families…

Are stepgrandparents important in blended families?

There is no right answer here, it depends on your own family situation. If you’re close with your parents, or your partner is close to their parents, then there’s a good chance you’ll want them to form a relationship with their stepgrandchildren. It doesn’t mean that this is an essential relationship though, and it’s not worth forcing a closeness if your or your partner’s parents are not already part of your life. But if you have a good relationship, grandparents can bring a wealth of experience, love, and richness to your children’s or stepchildren’s lives.

What are some good names for stepgrandparents?

One topic that comes up again and again with grandparents in all families, but especially blended ones, is the issue of what the grandchildren call their grandparents. It’s best not to force children to call their stepgrandparents anything in particular but let them do what feels right to them. Don’t worry if the children don’t end up calling their stepgrandparents the same thing as the biological children do. It’s important to let these things unfold naturally, but feel free to make suggestions if there’s something that appeals.

Name suggestions:

Classics: Nana, Grandma, Pop, Grandpa, Nonna, Nonno, etc
Classics with a twist: Grandma/Nana Mary, Grandpa/Pop Joe
Something more unusual: Grandmama, Grandpapa, Gigi, G-ma, G-pa
First names: If you’re comfortable, a variation on your first name

Is a stepgrandparent considered a relative?

Not for legal purposes, but it’s entirely up to you how you choose to prioritize the relationship. One of our favorite blended family quotes says, “Family is not defined by our genes, it is built and maintained through love.”

Tips for stepgrandparents

  • Be patient and take it slowly
    Both stepgrandchildren and stepgrandparents may feel uncomfortable with the idea that there is pressure to find affection and closeness. It’s okay to be a little hesitant and apprehensive at first. After all, it can take years to develop the trust and acceptance that characterize the best family relationships, so take things as they come.
  • Don’t play favorites
    It may feel more natural to be closer to biological family members, however, it is important for kids, parents, and grandparents in stepfamilies to make the effort to be as fair and equitable as possible. Children do notice and are affected when their stepsiblings are favored over them.
  • Don’t gang up
    It’s important for the different “sides” of the family not to gang up and take sides against one another. It can be easy for the grandparents to back up their biological grandchildren over their stepgrandchildren or their child over their child’s partner. The grandparents might have a hard time letting go of their child’s ex-partner, always comparing the stepparent to the biological parent. These behaviors are unhelpful and will create plenty of resentment.
  • Show interest
    Show interest in your stepgrandkids. While they may be shy toward you initially, it will mean a lot if you’re proactive about building a relationship. Babysit occasionally, join in events if you’re invited, and be supportive of the blended family dynamic.

Finally, have a grand old time

Let’s be honest, the stepgrandparent role in blended families is not an easy one but can be a very fun and rewarding one. Things can get complicated and messy in all family situations, let alone ones in which there are exes and steps and grands involved. So, it’s okay if things develop slowly, feel a bit unusual, or have their challenges. Have fun, where possible, or aim for things to be fun. Begin with grand intentions and generally grand things will happen.

No Comments
Integrating families Living together

What To Do When Your Stepchildren Disrespect You

Have you ever watched a movie about blended families? Most of the time there’s a barrier to overcome, but by the end of the movie everyone understands each other and gets along like a house on fire. Often these movies are comedies, which make everything look even more lighthearted and fun. If your stepchildren are disrespectful these movies may have you wondering why you don’t have the same relationship with your stepkids. Maybe instead of being precocious and sassy like the kids in the movies, they behave as though they don’t like you, or even disrespect you. But let’s be clear, these storylines are not the reality of most families.

Adjusting to a new family takes time and effort, both for the stepparent and the stepchildren. If you want to improve the relationship between yourself and your stepkids (or your partner and your kids) don’t worry, we’ve got some tips on how to inject some blended family comedy goodness into your home life.

If your stepchildren are disrespecting you

Disrespect in a family is not acceptable, blended or otherwise. No one can or should be forced into a relationship they’re not ready for, but it should be clear to all family members that respect is a basic right.

1. Get the rules straight at the start

Start as you mean to go on! Although you can’t force your stepchild to love or even like you immediately, you can require a certain level of respect. This means you and your partner have to lay down the rules right from the start so that your stepchild knows what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior. You should be clear that you will also respect them and their boundaries.

2. Be firm about disrespectful behavior

Once you lay the ground rules, you and your partner should be firm in enforcing them. It’s no use if you make the rules but you don’t enforce them, because then your stepchild will see that you’re not serious. Being consistent is the best thing you can do for the family. Your partner plays an important role here and should back you up if your stepchildren are disrespectful to you.

3. Get to know your stepchild

It’s crucial that you get to know your stepchild. As you get to know them, you’ll get a deeper understanding of the emotions they are going through. If there are situations that consistently cause them to behave disrespectfully or act out against you, getting to know them better may help you get to the bottom of this.

4. Don’t try too much too soon

Don’t try to rush the relationship. Wherever you are on your journey to know each other better, try to enjoy the process instead of always trying to push ahead to the next stage. Your stepchild has been through a lot and will need time to adjust to the marriage, and learn to trust you as their stepparent. Some research shows that it can take four to seven years for a stepfamily to function like a biological family.

5. Keep talking to your spouse

You and your spouse should be a team in navigating this relationship. Your stepkids will look to them especially and if their parent doesn’t call them out on their behavior they may feel like it’s acceptable. Talk to your spouse about what’s happening, what you’re feeling, and what you’re going through. Discuss what’s working and what’s not and from there you’ll be able to face these challenges together.

No Comments
Integrating families

Should Blended Families Take Separate Vacations?

blended family separate vacation

Separate or joint—which is the best type of vacation for a blended family? When it comes to vacations, opinions can be divided on whether blended families should take separate vacations or joint vacations.

So should blended families take separate vacations?

It’s a tricky question; it might seem easier to split into your familiar, comfortable groups, but a vacation can be a great way to bond and spend some really fun time together.

Benefits of a joint vacation for blended families

  • Children get to spend more time with each other
  • Children get the opportunity to know their stepparent
  • It gives the whole family opportunities to enjoy new experiences together
  • Being outside their home environment allows everyone to see their new family members in a different light
  • It allows the family to create new memories together

Overall, there are far more benefits to a joint vacation. A split vacation will give everyone the feeling that although the family lives together, they do not have the same status. It reinforces the ‘yours/mine’ distinction and may create resentment between stepsiblings.

Benefits of a separate vacation for blended families

  • The children (and adults!) might find it easier to relax with their biological family
  • There are fewer disagreements since there are fewer people involved
  • Can be more affordable

There may be times when a separate vacation is necessary, such as scheduling issues, different interests, financial considerations, or age differences. We’ve heard that separate vacations sometimes work best if the stepparent can also join the holiday—perhaps while their children are with their previous spouse. This avoids the ‘yours/mine’ feeling, even if not everyone in the family is on the holiday. Of course, you’ll know what works best for your family; just make sure the idea of a separate vacation is genuinely embraced by everyone involved.

Planning for blended family vacations

A joint vacation for a blended family will not be without its stresses (although don’t forget, the same often goes for traditional family vacations too!), but planning will help. Here’s our step-by-step guide to a successful blended family vacation.

Vacation Budget

Decide on the budget of the vacation with your spouse before discussing ideas with the kids. This should include a total budget, plus a breakdown of what you expect to spend on accommodation, dining, and any spending money.

Vacation destination

This is possibly the trickiest step!. Going with the preferences of any one family member or child can make the others disgruntled. The easiest option is that you and your spouse agree on a destination and inform the kids. Simple! But if you want to involve the family in the decision, here are some of our suggestions for making this part as painless as possible.

  • Ask everyone for their favorite vacation spot and why they want to vacation in that spot. Every suggestion is valid and important, listen to all their suggestions carefully.
  • List out all the venues that are within your budget. Venues outside the budget will have to wait for another day.
  • If you are planning a vacation every year then you can rotate the list. Each holiday you can vacation at one family member’s favorite spot.
  • If you are not planning another vacation for some time then you can decide the venue by doing a lucky draw and pick one at random from the list of appropriate suggestions.

Whatever you do keep the venue selection process logical. Avoid any bias and don’t succumb to any emotional blackmail.

Preparing the kids for the vacation

It will probably be necessary to prepare your children for the first blended family vacation. Emphasize the fact that since you are now a family, your vacations are going to be together. If the children have separate bedrooms at home but you expect them to share a room with their stepsiblings, inform them in advance. If there will be an opportunity for separate outings for parts of the family (such as the biological families) then raise this before you go.

Flexibility on vacation

It is not necessary that the blended family spends every minute of their vacation together. Enforced time together is not the measure of a successful vacation. Perhaps the children will go off together while the adults relax, or the older kids will go hiking while the younger ones swim. Don’t schedule things too much, allow for some flexibility, and give the kids some space to have input and take the lead when it comes to activities.

Enjoying your blended family vacation

So should blended families take separate vacations? Planning a blended family vacation can seem tough but the benefits are worth it, and it should become easier each time. Don’t let concerns or fears prevent you from taking a chance on a holiday together— you likely have a wonderful experience waiting for you. Traveling and letting go of your daily routine will, and creating brand new memories together is a great way to forge new and stronger bonds. When you return ask children what they liked most about the trip, their answers might surprise you. (And if they are ungracious, don’t take it to heart; what may seem like a problem for them today may turn into a funny memory some years down the line.) Lastly, frame some vacation photos as a reminder of good times spent together—and start planning for your next vacation, it’ll be even better!

Lead image via Pexels

No Comments
Integrating families Living together

10 TV Shows About Blended Families

TV shows about blended families or single-parent families aren’t as rare as they used to be. And while we all enjoy a bit of escapism, sometimes it feels really validating to see a version of your life played out on screen (even if most of them are highly unrealistic). Here are some of our top picks for TV shows about blended families.

The Brady Bunch

The original, if not the best, and certainly the most famous blended family. A widowed mom and her three daughters and a widower dad and his three sons join together to become the ultimate blended family with the help of housekeeper Alice. A lesson is learned in each episode.

Full House (and Fuller House)

A widower’s two brothers move in to help him raise his three children. Bob Saget and John Stamos were especially great in this sitcom, which also offered a life lesson in each episode. In the new version, the kids are all grown up, and the eldest daughter DJ is now a widow with three kids. She returns to her family home to live with her sister and best friend; heartwarming moments and hilarity ensue in both versions.

Modern Family

Modern Family features a blended family, a gay married couple, and a nuclear family, all as dysfunctional and loving as each other. Despite the comedy nature of the show, Modern Family addresses real issues and offers insight into the struggles faced by all families, regardless of how they’re formed. Plenty of laughs to be had!


Single mom Katherine is raising her daughter in London, and offending almost everyone around her at the same time. Having conceived her daughter after a one-night stand with a member of a boyband, she is now ready for another child and spends much of the first season trying to pressure her daughter’s father into getting her pregnant again–despite the fact that they despise each other. This series is far from realistic, but silly and fun. (But NOT one to watch with the kids, there’s plenty of swearing and sex!)

Single Parents

Featuring (unsurprisingly) a group of single parents as they navigate parenting, work, dating, and life in general. This was canceled after two seasons but received positive reviews for its depiction of life as a single parent. It’s also worth watching to see Gossip Girl’s Leighton Meester on screen again.

Drake and Josh

This one focuses on the relationship between two very different stepbrothers. One is cool and popular, the other is smart but awkward. A funny and endearing take on teen problems as the boys navigate life in a blended family. A good one for younger kids to watch.

Step by Step

An oldie but a goodie, this ran through most of the 90’s so it’s dated but worth a watch. A divorced man and a widowed woman, each with three children, come together to create a blended family (sound familiar?). There are plenty of arguments and resentments within the family, but they grow to become a loyal and loving family.

Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce

Abby is a successful self-help author who turns to her friends for support as her impending divorce threatens to derail her career. Abby has been the main breadwinner in the relationship and we see her struggle with co-parenting, child support payments, and her ex-husband’s new partner playing a part in her children’s lives. The struggles are realistic (even if everyone is unnaturally beautiful and wealthy) and relatable. Later on in the series, we also see Abby struggle to deal with the ex-wife of her new partner as Abby develops a relationship with his kids.

The Fosters

Stef and Lina are an interracial, lesbian married couple with five children. Brandon is Stef’s son from her previous marriage, and the couple have adopted twins together. They also foster two other children who they go on to adopt later in the series. The premise alone tells you that this show is going to be exploring all the possible dynamics of blended families. Jennifer Lopez was an executive producer for The Fosters, so it has JLo’s stamp of approval!

Sister, Sister

Featuring Tia and Tamera Mowry, Sister, Sister is about identical twins separated at birth and reunited as teenagers. It sounds like Parent Trap, but with a more tragic back story. The girls are adopted out separately at birth, and meet by chance in a shopping mall. The two girls and their parents end up living together in a blended family of sorts, although their adoptive parents are not in a relationship.

You may not see yourself and your family depicted accurately on-screen, but it’s comforting to see the struggles, the joys, and the ups and downs of blended families play out on TV. Let us know if you have any other favorite TV shows about blended families to recommend!

Read more:

Blended Families with Teens: 5 Things You Should Know
Should a Stepparent Discipline Their Partner’s Kids

Image via Pexels

No Comments