Blend Family Week: 3 Phrases to Never Say to a Blended Family

BY: - 19 Sep '14 | Blended Families

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I grew up in a blended family due to my parents marrying one another after previous marriages, then having me. They both had children from their previous marriage, which one, my older brother, lived with us. My older brother and I are literally night and day. He is 6’4, 250 lbs, and I am 5’7 140 lbs. It was very evident when you saw us together that we weren’t full blood brothers, but the fact is, I never saw or considered my brother my step brother. We would hear many phrases that discouraged us from seeing one another as brothers versus stepbrothers. Here are 3 phrases to never say to blended families.

Your children don’t look alike. My little sister and I look like twins, but then my older brother looked nothing like us. I remember the moments when people would say to my parents or even to us, “You all look different”. It made us look at our brother like he wasn’t one of us. The goal of blended families is to become one by celebrating the similarities not the differences.

Do your children ever see their “real” parent? My brother’s dad wasn’t in his life, so my dad treated my brother as he was his blood son.  Just because you can have a baby doesn’t make you a “real” parent.  The insinuation that a step parent isn’t as legitimate as a biological parent is disheartening.  There are many step parents taking full responsibility for the role they play in their step children’s lives. Parenting is a commitment that requires sacrifice, love, and time. From our view, my dad was just as much as his, which made him his real parent.

Are you step siblings or half siblings? Technically, a step sibling is one who is joined by marriage with no blood relation, and a half siblings shares one parent biologically. In a blended family you don’t want anyone to feel like they don’t belong so the term step or half can create a divide between two people you want to see accept and embrace one another. When people would ask me growing up, “Oh, he is your step brother?” I would quickly reply back with, “No, he is my brother”.

Blended families are beautiful, but they do require those on the outside of the family to better understand the dynamics in order to promote unity. My parents made it a rule in our home not to use any negative phrases that would cause division among us. Since we had to watch what words we used to one another we surely didn’t want to hear it from others.

BMWK: Have you ever heard these phrases before? How did you respond?

It’s Blended Families Week on the site.  Please click here for more articles and resources.

About the author

Jamal Miller wrote 84 articles on this blog.

Jamal Miller is the Co-Founder of Married and Young.com, a community committed to doing relationships God’s way, alongside his wife Natasha Miller. He has been involved in Pastoral Ministry for over 8 years, graduating from Christ for the Nations Institute with his Practical Theology Degree and Ecclesia College with his Bachelors in Christian Leadership. His passion for marriage and healthy relationships has influenced thousands to do it God’s way! He is the author of "25 Ways to Prepare for Marriage Other than Dating". Jamal and Natasha reside in Chicago, IL.

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2 WordPress comments on “Blend Family Week: 3 Phrases to Never Say to a Blended Family

  1. Rayna Ramos

    i enjoyed reading the views and stories regards mixed families…and dont get it twisted…all children need families to join hands and do the things they can do best always! its a blessing when friends with children, and estranged bloodties find such familial bonds as My Village has…god bless us everyone! we have some great kids thanx to all of your efforts! i love you! cyabye!the one who slipped thru the cracks!

  2. anonymous stepmother

    Sounds great in theory but this is unrealistic! My husband had a child before we were married and everyone already knew the child wasn’t mine. The child has an involved parent and visits on holidays. In addition, the child looks nothing like the two children we have together. Every family is different and unfortunately people are still going to ask.

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How Do You Answer Your Child’s Questions About Your Blended Family?

BY: - 19 Sep '14 | Blended Families

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One day recently I picked up my 14-year-old daughter from her grandmother’s house with my 5-year-old son in tow. As we waited for my daughter, my son wandered into another room and returned holding something behind his back, a look of horror plastered across his face.

“Mom!” he said, “ What in the world is this!” He pulled a photo from behind his back. It was a picture of me and my daughter’s father at senior prom. “Why are you married with (‘married with’ is the term he uses to describe anything that looks like dating) my sister’s dad?”

His confusion surprised me a bit. My daughter’s father has always been an active co-parent. She splits her time between our home and his, so my son has always known that she has a different father than he does and has sisters that aren’t his sisters. So when he looked at me, frustrated and confused, I realized that maybe it didn’t make as much sense to him as I thought it had. He wanted answers from me, and I didn’t know what to say.

When we got home, I explained to him that just like his dad and I live in the same house and take care of him, a long time ago his sister’s dad and I did the same, but we broke up. The explanation satisfied his curiosity for that moment, but later he asked me whether his dad and I would break up. Another day he asked when he grew up and got married whether his wife would be already “broken up.”

The  experience brought to light the fact that while he’s never known anything other than his blended family, he still has questions about how that family came to be.

I’ve tried to field his questions about our blended family structure with age-appropriate honesty. Telling him  “it was a long time ago” and hoping he’ll forget about it doesn’t work. Sometimes his questions don’t have easy answers and when I truly don’t know I allow that answer to suffice. But, giving him honest responses, without going into the gory details, helps keep the communication lines open and arms him with the knowledge that his blended family is beautiful.

BMWK: Do your kids ask questions about your blended family? How do you answer them?

 

It’s Blended Families Week on the site.  Please click here for more articles and resources.

About the author

Aja Dorsey Jackson wrote 208 articles on this blog.

Aja Dorsey Jackson is a freelance writer and marriage educator in Baltimore, Maryland and author of the blog and book, Making Love in the Microwave.

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