A New (Blended) Family Bill of Rights

According to Virginia Woolf, for a woman to succeed in her ambition to write fiction, she “must have money and a room of her own.”

Granted your little one may not be attempting to compose the Great American [or in this case, I suppose, British] novel, and her allowance may suffice for now–but if you are to bring your daughters and sons into your new wife’s home, in order for them to feel themselves a part of that household, and thus a part of your new life, you must help them carve out a space that is theirs.

And it’s a topic that keeps coming up in my life, both in session, and among friends, because, fundamentally, combining two different families under one roof is quite the challenge.

I thought about some of the major, recurring sources of tension that seem to plague blended families, and came up with the themes below:

  • Room and Space–who owns what and who has the right to what?
  • Household Rules–different households have different ones; by whose rules should the children abide when combined in a house with conflicting family laws?
  • The Clustering of the Children–who gangs up on whom, and who’s in the in-group or the out-group?
  • Competition–What to do when children are campaigning for more parental attention, post-second marriage, and how do the parents make alone time for their children–and their spouses?


Before I attempt to address these issues, I’d like to leave off with “A New Family Bill of Rights” by Isolina Ricci, author of Mom’s House, Dad’s House, brought down by “Kids ‘n’ Dad Shared Support – Founding Partner in the Family Renewal Project:”

A New Family Bill of Rights

 • Each child has the right to have two homes where he or she is cherished and given the opportunity to develop normally.

• Each child has the right to a meaningful, nurturing relationship with each parent.

• Each parent and child has the right to call themselves a family regardless of how the parent’s time is divided.

• Each parent has the responsibility and right to contribute to the raising of his or her child.

• Each child has the right to competent parents and to be free from hearing, observing, or being part of their parents’ arguments or problems with one another.

• Each parent has the right to his or her own private life and territory and to raise the children without unreasonable interference from the other parent.

If you’re a divorcing or divorced parent, see if you can subscribe to this Bill of Rights–it will make all the difference in your child’s–and your own–adjustment to the breakup of your marriage.



I help adults and adolescents through the particular struggles of our time: tension between couples, parenting frustration, blending new families, separation and divorce, (un)employment, cancer, and loss. When relationships come to an impasse, I use mediation techniques to try to ensure that each party will have his/her needs heard and accounted for in a dignified way. In addition to talking, listening, and reframing, I utilizes the tools of metaphor, active teaching, role-playing, visualization, and hypnotherapy.for families and businesses, as well as in cases of divorce.

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