Psychology of Adjustment: Blended Family

Provide a definition and concrete example for the following terms: blended family,
compassionate love, anxious/ambivalent attachment style, and family mediation.

Psychology of Adjustment: Blended Family

This is a family that is comprised of children from a previous marriage of either the wife
or husband, or both of them. Statistics from the past show that the most common form of a
blended family consists of the mother and a stepfather arrangement (Purswell & Dillman Taylor,
2013). This arrangement is common because mostly the mother gets to maintain custody of the
children. The stepmother and stepfather is a parent who is not the biological parent to the
children. They become a parent mainly because they are married to the children’s biological
mother or father. One-third of all the children making up a blended family were born to
unmarried mothers, the remaining proportion was as a result of divorce or death of a parent
(Purswell & Dillman Taylor, 2013). An example can be illustrated below: John lost his wife 5
years ago in a tragic road accident, a situation that left him to care for their three children.
Currently, he is married to Mary who is now the children’s stepmother. Since the children are
living together with someone who is not their biological mother, but with their biological father,
the result is a blended family.

Compassionate Love

Compassionate love has gained the attention of many researchers since the 1990s. It is
closely related to what many refer to as unlimited love. Compassionate love is a form of love that
is basically centered on the good of the other. It refers to that feeling of intimacy and affection
that one feels for another when he or she cares deeply but does not necessarily experience

passion in their presence (Sprecher & Fehr, 2011). Therefore, it is very different from passionate
love with is focused on one’s own needs. Engaging in compassionate love has been noted to only
have positive effects on the individual. An example of compassionate love can be described in
two best friends who are male and female. These two can enjoy companionship, and they can
also feel comfortable with each other. They both put the needs of the other before their own, but
still do not feel arousal or passionate towards each other.

Anxious/Ambivalent Attachment Style

This is an attachment style whereby the individual shows characteristics depending on
whether he or she is an adult or child. Children usually become so suspicious of strangers and
display distress when separated from their parent or caregiver (Stevenson-Hinde, Shouldice &
Chicot, 2011). These children will usually not feel reassured when the parent comes back and
hence they can react through aggression or refusing comfort. Adults on the other hand are
reluctant about becoming close to other people, and frequently worry that their feelings are not
reciprocated by their significant other (MacDonald, Locke, Spielmann & Joel, 2013). Hence,
they become accustomed to breakups from relationships. An example of ambivalent love is when
an individual has had many previous relationships which have all ended in breakup mainly
because he or she feels like the relationship is distant. This is usually because they do not feel
like the partner is reciprocating the feelings of love. After the breakup, it takes time for this
individual to get into another relationship because they become reluctant at first to get involved
once again.

Family Mediation

This is a therapy that usually involves a meeting of the whole family, along with a
professional third party who is educated on mediation, so as to solve family disagreements
(Cleak, Schofield & Bickerdike, 2014). An example of family mediation is described below: In a
family of three children, the parents were so stressed because there was no longer peace in the
house. This was caused by the fact that every child wanted to finally get a share of their father’s
property since they were all over eighteen years old. Hence, this dispute was between the parents
and the children. The parents claimed that the children were not yet responsible enough and that
giving them their shares would hurt the family business. This is why a family mediation was held
whereby a third party helped to mediate the conclusion.



Cleak, H., Schofield, M., & Bickerdike, A. (2014). Efficacy of family mediation and the role of
family violence: study protocol. BMC Public Health, 14(1), 1-23. doi:10.1186/1471-
MacDonald, G., Locke, K. D., Spielmann, S. S., & Joel, S. (2013). Insecure attachment predicts
ambivalent social threat and reward perceptions in romantic relationships. Journal Of
Social & Personal Relationships, 30(5), 647-661. doi:10.1177/0265407512465221
Purswell, K. E., & Dillman Taylor, D. (2013). Creative Use of Sibling Play Therapy: An
Example of a Blended Family. Journal Of Creativity In Mental Health, 8(2), 162-174.
Sprecher, S., & Fehr, B. (2011). Dispositional attachment and relationship-specific attachment as
predictors of compassionate love for a partner. Journal Of Social & Personal
Relationships, 28(4), 558-574. doi:10.1177/0265407510386190
Stevenson-Hinde, J., Shouldice, A., & Chicot, R. (2011). Maternal anxiety, behavioral inhibition,
and attachment. Attachment & Human Development, 13(3), 199-215.