Blended Family: ‘a family consisting of a couple and their children from this and all previous relationships’.
I often get asked how I manage to survive—and thrive—in a blended environment. Many people expect this arrangement to be frustrating, something that either works or completely falls apart. I’ve met parents who automatically assumed there is a ‘resentment’ component among our children—biological, adopted, or step. The latest question has been, “Is it hard to be in a blended family opposed to being a ‘normal’family?” I thought about it for a long moment. I never really thought that my family unit, despite the mechanics of biology or not, wouldn’t be considered normal. To answer this question, I had to pose a few more:
Do ‘normal’ families ever encounter frustrations?
Does sibling dynamic differ from family to family—even child to child?
Does a family, regardless of the members who make it up, always find the right balance?
As a stepparent and biological mother, I can easily answer all of those questions in the same exact manner. The truth is my family life is not primarily guided by the logistics of who is biologically related to who. It is guided by very specific rules and attitudes that shape our blended family into a ‘normal’ family.
With so many re-marriages and new relationships, the merging of biological and stepchildren is becoming a dominant trend. Still, it is a sensitive development that can either make or break a relationship.
I decided to write this blog and share my own blended family journey to provide answers to friends who seek advice on their newly blended family, as well as those curious to understand the dynamics of a blended environment.
Balance is the key in achieving a successful and peaceful blended environment. It helps put things in perspective and not lose sight of the ultimate goal (to have a happy and confident family rooted in love, understanding, and compromise.) Balance in a blended family is knowing how to run a functional household without losing sight of the important things. One perfect example is picking your battles. With multiple sets of parents it is important to figure out ahead of time what is worth fighting over and when is best to let go. Not every fight will be worth stealing your peace of mind. Not every misbehavior is a direct result of ‘being blended. Sometimes, children are just children. Other times, it is a particular issue deriving from having to share multiple households. When issues arise, my husband and I ask ourselves this question: is this worth battling about and create a conflict over, or is something we should just learn to let go?
Establish your house rules from the beginning.
This concept is also true for traditional families, but I find that blended environments cause more opportunities for disagreement and imbalance…[Continue Reading Here]