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Family… What is a family?  

Family… What is Family?

That may seem like a crazy question but in my life it isn’t that easily defined.  I will start with my family… I have my mother and father – but they divorced and remarried.  I have two step brothers on my mother’s side and two step sisters on my fathers side and of course a step mother and step father.  These days that is not too unusual.  My husband’s side is easier – his parents were married their entire lives and he has two brothers.

Our Children

Then I met my husband and he was divorced with two sons – my stepsons, who are pretty much the same age as my stepbrothers.  Hope you aren’t too confused yet but we are only getting started… We adopted our now 26 year old daughter.  Her biological mother has her half brother from one husband and four half siblings from another husband.  Our daughter’s father was not married to her mother and he has another five siblings.  Although they are all her family – they are not ours.  We adopted two more children – our youngest son and daughter.   They have the same mother but different fathers.  Their mother has two children (older) who are adopted by one couple and one young sibling who she still has.  All have different fathers.  So our son has siblings – we know of at least one on his father’s side and our daughter has multiple on her father’s side.  Oy vay.  Now the older two siblings who are adopted are the closest in their family – we occasionally see them and stay in touch.  Not one of our adopted children can say with 100% clarity how many siblings they have.

Diversity

Families are all different and diverse.  We are far from the Leave It To Beaver family or even the Brady Bunch.  No one was born into our specific family.  My stepsons were born to my husband and his ex-wife although I have been a part of their lives since they were babies.  Our middle daughter moved in at 6 1/2 years old, our son at 2 1/2 and our youngest daughter we did get right from birth – but I did not give birth to her.

Traditional families often need family counseling such as ReGain but blended families benefit from it even more.  There are a lot of ways a blended family can un-blend themselves and each member comes with a past and a history that may need to be dealt with as a family.  I have always been an advocate for adoption as well as mental health.

Counseling isn’t just for a crisis.  It can be helpful in good times too.  Any type of major life change is an excellent candidate for family counseling.  For us, when we adopt we have visions of everyone falling in love with one another and embracing each other – everything about them.  That is not the reality.  They don’t have the same histories.  They have not had the same struggles.  Some can come from abusive backgrounds while others may be neglectful.  That all needs to be addressed as a family.  Addressing the individual does not necessarily help everyone grow as a family.
Other times family counseling can help are loss of family or even pets – some of our most stressful days were when we lost our English Mastiff and our Belgian Draft Horse.  But job loss, family illness, adding someone else into the home – adoption, eldercare, grandchildren etc… Pretty much any major stressor may benefit by family counseling.  I feel strongly also that everyone benefits by raising children who are not ashamed to ask for help.  Who know the benefit of resources that exist.  They don’t have to struggle with the pain without help.  I would rather raise a healthy family than a family that struggles.

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