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How to Talk to Kids about StepFamilies and Blended Families with Ron L. Deal, MMFT

Ron L. Deal, MMFT – Every person in a family wants to feel loved and wants to be able to show love to others who they care about and appreciate. And while that concept may be simple- the execution can be surprisingly complicated as not everyone gives and receives love in the same way. Some may desire reassuring physical touch while another person enjoys compliments, encouragement and other words of affirmation. Still others may feel most loved when they receive gifts or their family members do acts of service for them—cooking, cleaning, picking up the dry cleaning, or fixing something that might help the other person. Some prefer quality time. Perhaps you recognize your love language in all of these—and the love languages of others in your family. Things get convoluted– and well-intentioned people miss the mark when they, for instance, value acts of service but their partner or children show love through quality time or words of affirmation. Not to mention, this can be hard enough in a family that hasn’t gone through the life altering changes like divorce, remarriage or death of a parent—but what about the blended family who has to navigate step parents, step siblings, step grandparents with all of their nuances, needs, rules, emotions, concerns and ways that all of these different people want to feel valued and important? Blended families must deal with the pain of the past, the complexities of new relationships and the unique challenges that come with creating one family. As parents and stepparents, how can we have these important conversations about fear, loss, inclusion, empathy and connection—tying the binds between the biological family members and the new family members? How do we find love, strengthen it and keep it in a step family? For these answers, I have the honor of having a wonderful conversation with our guest today, Ron L. Deal.