I was asked today, "Why did you become a step family coach?" I thought that was a wonderful question, so it's my blog topic for today.
I'm an LPC (licensed professional counselor) in the state of North Carolina. I have counseled couples, families (with children as young as 5 years old participating) and individuals for many years. Some of my families were remarried and blended families, also called step families. I listened to their concerns and their goals and thought I was doing a pretty good job of counseling them.
A decade into my counseling career, my marriage ended and I became a statistic- another divorced mom with kids. I took a break from counseling for a couple of years- I didn't feel worthy to help people at that time. After 2 years, I realized that no one is perfect- we all make mistakes. I knew that, even as a divorced counselor, I could still help others, so I returned to the field of counseling.
Several years later, I met a wonderful man and decided to give marriage another try. I was scared, but really wanted to try again. We married and became a blended family of 5 kids.
I knew blending a family is tough from my counseling experiences- but I really never knew how tough it was until I experienced it myself- UGHH! It was sooo hard! I was a step mom, with step kids, and had two completely different families trying to blend into one.
Our first year was the hardest- and then we began to get things worked out. It helped to be a counselor, (but of course the hardest person to counsel is yourself and your own family!) I learned a lot. What I learned most importantly was that I never really understood how hard it is to have a step family until I experienced it myself.
I looked on the internet at the available resources. There were many great websites out there to vent, (especially for step moms,) but very few resources for counseling from educated professionals. I decided I would focus my counseling on blended and step families.
I also decided that coaching would be more appropriate for blended and step families. When your new marriage is in trouble and your step family is falling apart- you need help- fast. You need direct guidance and advice to save your marriage and family. Sooooo- I became a step family coach (or blended family coach - your choice.)
I love talking with folks who have remarried and want to make their new family successful. I can hear in their voices the love they have for their spouse, and yet their frustrations with putting their families together.
It's especially exciting to listen as families get better... healthier...stronger- and each day is no longer a battle.
If you're having trouble in your step family- get help now. I wrote a book, Blended Family Advice, using all the stories I heard from step families (and my own blended family stories.) I heard a common "thread" in all of those stories, developed some theories, and wrote a book that will help blended families with their issues.
I also offer telephone coaching to those who want to talk with me directly. 2010 is a new year- make it a good one! Talk with you again soon, Shirley Cress Dudley, MA LPC Your blended and step family coach