The “Family” Portrait for a Single Parent Family

What says “family” like the traditional family portrait? Whether sitting in a photographer’s studio or arranged in a more natural pose, many of us find at one time or another that we want to have a formal family portrait done by a professional photographer. For a single parent family, it can be an issue—figuring out whether to do two different portraits with each parent, who to include in the family portrait, and, for blended families, trying to get everyone arranged and supportive in order to get the photograph taken at all.

It is amazing how seemingly simple things like having the family portrait done can be emotionally-charged and complicated in a single parent family. Of course, the event in itself is not complicated; it is all the emotions and baggage that we all bring to the process. Your children may balk at having a “family portrait” taken if their entire family isn’t in it and you may wonder who exactly constitutes family any more anyway?

I have a friend who, upon completing her divorce, the first thing she wanted to do was get a new family portrait taken with just herself and her children. She could not wait to replace the one that had been done a few years before as it reminded her of all the negative history and hurt in her marriage. She wanted the new portrait to be a symbolic declaration of what she now considered her family to be. Unfortunately, it was just too soon for her children. They found the whole experience to be painful and felt that their mother was trying to “erase” dad from the family dynamic. Of course, the post-divorce portrait is still part of their family lore, but it was not the pleasant declaration that my friend had hoped.

If you understand that a family portrait can be challenging as a single parent family and stay open to options and different configurations, you may have better luck accomplishing a portrait you will cherish. Get input from the kids and make sure they understand that they are part of different families and that just because you get one done with “your” family, does not mean that they are not involved and cherished in their other parent’s family too.

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