Growing up with a blended family had its share of challenges as well as blessings. Outside of the typical questions you have as the outside child, if you put your focus in the right place, you really can have the best of both worlds.
I didn’t appreciate as a child having these different sets of families who loved me and were available when I needed them. Instead of that outlook, I spent a lot of time focusing on the negative. I used to wonder what could’ve been had my mom and dad stayed together. What type of family would we have had if all of my siblings were created by my mother and father? I am their only child. I thought about those things because, back then, it was easier for me to complain instead of embracing the reality. It’s turning out to be a beautiful reality, but back when I was growing up I had resentments. I was jealous. I was jealous of my siblings who got to experience two parents in the home. They had our dad and their mom. I had my mom, who is simply beautiful, wonderful and amazing, but I still wondered what it was like to have our dad there too. Although everyone did their best to make me feel included, I still from time to time would feel like an outsider.
That jealousy I felt for my siblings would surface every time they shared stories about our dad. When my sister would say she was a daddy’s girl, when my brother would say, yeah you know daddy, were all reminders of what I didn’t have. Once I stopped holding on to resentments and opened myself up to experience what God did bless me with, my relationships improved. I love my siblings, I always have. Now I realize I only felt like an outsider because I chose to. I know how important it was for me to feel loved and included so I make sure I do that now with all of my siblings. I have two lovely sisters by my mom, three wonderful siblings by my dad and I now have a new step-sister and new step-brother (my mom recently remarried). And even though we are all adults, I want them to always feel welcome and included.
Being in a blended family is difficult for children. They can struggle with how and where they belong and how exactly to connect to their new siblings. Here are 3 ways to help the children get along:
1. Provide an opportunity allowing them to get to know each other. Their new sibling relationships shouldn’t feel like pressure. A new family is stressful enough. They will have questions and it may be uncomfortable at first, but give them time to adjust.
2. Be open and honest.Children can open up and share when they feel like they are getting the truth. They are going to want to know why this new relationship will work if the one with their other parent did not. Be honest, without bad mouthing, in order to make them feel secure in this new family structure.
3. Treat each child the same. All of the children should absolutely feel equal. Punishments as well as rewards should be the same across the board.
There are blessings in blended families. Although it took me a while to appreciate mine, I am grateful I got there.
BMWK – If grew up in a blended family, how was your relationship with your siblings from that family? What advice would you give on how to ensure that all of the kids feel loved in the family?