This has been a great summer for family. This next weekend, I will be attending the wedding of my wife’s niece. Yet another joining of families. Family is a very fluid concept. Some people have a very strict idea of what family is or even means. Some hold to the idea of the nuclear family. Family dynamics today take on so many forms. Blended families are becoming more prevalent. Even those without the benefit of marriage, there are still new dynamics and relationships created all the time. There are now stepparents, step-siblings, half-siblings, multi-generational homes, and families comprised of friends surviving together.
Speaking only from my own experiences, I think the hardest part of being a blended family is to realize that it really is a new relationship. But each person brings with them the history of their own. One might come from a home in childhood that was organized, neat, orderly, and emphasized appearance and image. Whereas the another might come from a home in childhood that was cluttered, more relaxed, without much structure. This creates for some very interesting discussions and disagreements. Even in nuclear family situations, parenting and discipline questions arise.
I think another challenge is figuring out where you fit in the family, especially in a newly formed family. In a blended family, you don’t really replace the other parent, but you still have a place in the family. In a traditional Mom, Dad, child family, there is usually no jealously from the Mom when Dad spends time with the child. But when the parent isn’t your own, as in a blended family, jealously can be present. It seems to be built in. It takes a lot of love and patience to create solid relationships, even in biologically related. Whatever your family dynamic, it is important to remember that all persons need attention, affection, appreciation and respect.
During my wedding, we had a unity ceremony to symbolize the combining of two families. As beautiful as the symbolism is, the reality is that it takes hard work, patience and trust to build real relationships. It is sometimes difficult to keep relationships strong with your own children let alone build them with your spouses children, when they are not yours. I think it is worth it.
Family is the one idea that I think we all need to practice. I know that it is so easy to caught up in surviving that we end up isolating ourselves from the world. I find that at the end of my workday, I really just want to relax and rest. I have never been one to plan outings or get-togethers so I appreciate that my wife’s family is good at that. This gives me a chance to interact with other family members and establish better relationships.
Happy family!


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