Do’s and Don’ts for Blended Family Bliss

It is estimated that 1 out of 3 people live in a blended family-that is, they are either a stepchild, a stepparent, or have step or half siblings. In most people’s lifetime, approximately half will be part of a blended family whether by inheritance or marriage.  Given the prevalence of blended family homes, my hope is that families and individuals will move beyond the survival mode, and look at ways that they can truly rock this blended family thing. Here are some do’s and don’ts to make this blended family life a thing you are truly proud and something you would not trade

  1. DO give yourself permission to mourn the loss of “Traditional” family. Whether you are a child of divorced parents, or a new wife to a man with children, you are entitled to grieve over what you always thought was “normal.” Newlywed life for a woman marrying someone with kids is going to be different than the newlywed life she dreamt about or read about in magazines. It is expected to feel sad and a sense of loss over what you thought you would have one day. Years ago, my best friend who had just gotten married to a man with a 3 year old told me, “we didn’t even get to be real newlyweds.” She is not alone in this experience and it’s something she had to grieve as a loss of something hoped for. She was not begrudging being a stepmom; she was, and is, fantastic. She was just painfully aware that her life was different than how she envisioned it. Once she was able to give proper place to it, and truly acknowledge it as a loss, she was able to grieve it and then move on. If you try to ignore the sadness, or the sense of loss, it will not go away. It will usually just show up in other ways like frustration or resentment. Grief is something that must be walked through in order to get past the loss. So acknowledge it. Grieve it. Honor your feelings the way they deserve to be honored.
  2. DON’T try to be all things to all people. The quickest path to making yourself feel like a shell of yourself is to try to fit every role every family member needs you to fill. To be the always-accepting stepmom, the ever-supportive wife, the master-negotiator with the ex, the firm but super fun parent with your own kid well, you just cannot be and do it all. Somehow when we are part of a blended family, we can expect ourselves to be super human and have the superpower of EMOTIONLESS (WO)MAN. We expect ourselves to stay even-keeled and that we shouldn’t be frustrated, or if we are we should express it only controlled and contained sort of ways. We try to keep the peace regardless of the war that is raging inside and outside of our home and inside our hearts. The quicker we realize we are only one person and we cannot meet the needs of all the people in our life all the time, the quicker we will be on our way to living a life in a blended family true to ourselves and happier as a result. Our relationships will be more genuine, even if less peaceful for a time. And while raw real emotion is painful to tolerate sometimes, NOT allowing ourselves to feel emotions is so much more painful and detrimental. So be yourself. Don’t pretend not to be mad if you’re mad. Don’t be the middleman between your husband and your ex if you do not want to. Be true to you and you and your family will be better because of it.
  3. DO THINK BIG PICTURE. Researchers show that it takes on average 5-7 years for a blended family to fully “blend,” and it can be more or less time depending on the ages of children when the marriage occurred. That is a long time and because of this, it is imperative we think big picture as life pertains to our family. Thinking big picture is paramount to our family’s success, and our sanity. We have got to constantly and intentionally turn our focus to 5, 10 even 15 years

If you are looking for a counselor to help navigate the blended family scene, please reach out to me any time. Whether you are about to be part of one, or are already in one, Journey Clinical Services can help no matter your stage or situation

Posted by Sarah Pendleton at 2:19 PM