Those of us who came of age watching “The Brady Bunch” had no idea that this example of a blended family was all a ruse. The struggles, animosities, emotional scars, and inconsistencies of a life together — from two different worlds — are impossible to anticipate alongside our “idealized” version reflected in my title.
But, the struggle is real — even when the children in the family are adults themselves. My counseling practice is filled with remarried couples who admit they hadn’t realized how difficult it would be. Adult children often have strong opinions about their parent’s choice in a new partner, and are usually not afraid to voice it. Reports of adult children who disengage from their parent when they remarry, questions about how the parents balance their time, and the impact on relationships with grandchildren are just a few of the unforeseen challenges.
By the time they arrive in my office the dysfunctional dynamics are overwhelming. Working backwards to educate them on adjusting expectations, setting healthy boundaries, and letting go of that idealized version of how they imagined it all, are just a few of the tasks we take on.
However, if I had been able to offer advice PRIOR TO their union, it would be this:
Do not ignore or disregard the certainty of these inevitable challenges.
Talk A LOT about your kids; the good, the bad, and the ugly!! Commit as a team to support one another, and to respect the emotional limitations of others in your new family.