• Blended Families

    Blended Families Counseling and Services, Leslie Terner, Chevy Chase, MD

    In every school, in every class, we see children living in blended families. With the high divorce rate, it is inevitable that children live with a biological parent and the parent’s new partner.

    Joining two parents and their respective children is bound to create challenges. Each parent has a unique parenting style. Each family has its own routines. In a new family group, the children are likely to feel stress. Conflicts will arise between their biological parents, their new parent and the step-siblings.

    To ease some of these difficulties, it is smart to see a psychotherapist before everyone is under one roof.

    Too many marriages dissolve because the well-intentioned couple had unrealistic expectations.

    • They believe their first marriage taught them everything they need to know to have a happy remarriage.
    • They assume they know how to be a stepparent just because they have raised their own children.
    • They don’t realize just how very different stepfamilies can be – and don’t know how to handle it.

    How Family Therapy Can Help

    Family therapy is an effective way for a blended family to work through their issues. The family will mostly meet in group sessions. There likely will be individual sessions for each child and one or both parents.

    You can expect your psychotherapist to follow the family systems therapy approach. This type of therapy views the family as an integral system, and each member is affected by that system. If a family member has a problem, it’s an indication that the family unit is not functioning properly.

    In family therapy, common discussion themes include:

    • Parenting and discipline styles
    • Development of new relationships
    • Conflicting emotions on all sides
    • First-time parents with stepchildren
    • Adjusting to a new parent
    • Feelings of abandonment following divorce
    • Handling frustration and anger
    • Competing for attention
    • Sibling rivalry and jealousy
    • Visitations with parents
    • Changed routines
    • Insecurities

    How Can Stepfamilies Succeed?

    Research shows that a family can take up to five years to make a successful transition. The first years will be the hardest, as children settle into the new relationships. Young adolescents, who are forming their own identities tend to have a more difficult time.

    To help ensure a smooth transition, parents who are planning to remarry or cohabitate with children should consider preparing the family in advance. They can talk with their children to get their views on how to make the transition work best.

    The children will more easily accept stepparents who start out in a friend role — or as a sort of “camp counselor” — compared to a disciplinarian. Also, stepparents must be sensitive to their stepchildren’s comfort zone regarding displays of affection or feelings of abandonment.

    Psychotherapy for Blended Families

    In family therapy, the blended family will work through the issues that each member brings to the new family. Parents and children can figure out their new roles and set boundaries regarding parenting, discipline, and other aspects of family life.

    Children can voice their individual fears and develop a better understanding of their place in the family unit. They can get reassurance of their parents’ love and affection — as the parents build their own loving bond with their spouse and the stepchildren.

    Contact the office

    To find out more about Blended Families Services, contact Leslie Terner’s office located at 5480 Wisconsin Avenue Suite LL8 Chevy Chase, Maryland 20815. Leslie Terner provides Blended Family counseling in Chevy Chase, MD and its surrounding areas.

    Book an appointment by calling 301-718-1758

  • Our Location

    5480 Wisconsin Avenue
    Suite LL8
    Chevy Chase, MD 20815


    Mon-Thu 12:00PM-8:00PM
    Sat: 12:00AM-5:00PM
    Fri and Sun: Closed


    (301) 718-1758


    (301) 718-1767

    About Leslie Terner, MS, PMHCNS, BC

    I am a Certified Psychiatric Mental Health Clinical Nurse Specialist in Chevy Chase, Maryland. I have been in private practice since 1999. I help clients to heal and gain insight into why they have developed their behaviors.