The term blended family is fairly new in its popularity; however, blended families have been around since the Bible days. My grandparents are not quite as old as the people in the Bible but they serve as a wonderful example of successfully parenting in blended family. My grandfather married my widowed grandmother somewhere around 1944. She already had a whopping six children, one of them a small toddler. Years later would come three more little mouths to feed; yes 9 children in all.
I learned at lot by watching my grandfather and hearing my family recall stories of their childhood. Here is a little of what I learned. I hope it helps in your journey.
1. When families blend together there is no separation between the two. Like mixing the ingredients of a cake, when blended together they produce something altogether new and lovely. The goal is harmony so that the two become one. This means a heart for “our” family replaces the feeling of your family and my family.
2. Take time to establish relationships with older stepchildren. Youngsters may accept you right away. Older children may need time. Allow them the needed time to settle into their new environment. Give yourself the same opportunity.
3. Ask the children what are they comfortable calling you. Let them know what feels right to you and agree upon a name. They may or may not want to call you mom or dad. If needed help them with suggestions. – To this day the children born from my grandmother’s first marriage, now in their 60’s and 70’s still call my grandfather by his nickname, not dad.
4. Treat all of the children with unconditional love. No strings attached. You have enough love for all the children. This is especially important when additional children are born into the marriage. Make certain the older siblings don’t feel set aside for new babies that “belong” to you. They all belong to you. – My grandmother has passed but my grandfather at 92 years old continues to love ALL of his 9 children dearly.
5. Set aside the terms “step” and “half” if they don’t feel good and choose what is comfortable to your family and your situation. Of the 9 siblings raised by my grandfather, I have never heard them say my step sister or step brother. That didn’t feel good to them. They are all simply sisters and brothers.
Blended families face challenges that non-blended families don’t. When needed, seek out wise counsel from someone you trust. The lessons learned from my grandparents are priceless. Grab on to what they learned over 70 years ago and make it your own.
BMWK – How can you adapt these tips to fit your family?