A Blended or step family could consist of children from a previous marriage of one or both couple with their own children. Or a family where the is more than one wife and children from the different wives. Or a family consisting of a couple, their children and children from outside wedlock. Blended because there are more than a set of children in the marriage. Most times, a blended family poses a lot of grief for the children, the wife, and invariably the husband. However, the realization that whatever these families go through today, has already been experienced by couples since the beginning of time, should be a source of comfort, inspiration, and a channel for useful information. Some of these families could be models that the modern blended families could emulate or learn from to correct and build their own. At the end, we hope to bring the modern blended families closer and build a strong, happy, united family and ultimately enjoy a blended family bliss.
Coping as a child in a blended family
Yemisi is the 12th child in a blended family of 16. Like in most blended families we see today, there are lots of squabbles, back stabbing, badmouthing and Yemisi’s family was no different, but through it all, the household struggled and found a rhythm that brought peace, love and togetherness in her home. How did they manage it?
Did her parents contribute to this amiable, enviable bliss? Yes! And their secret?
Parenting is never easy, especially when saddled with effectively bringing up your own biological children, 13 step-kids and other live-in extended family members. It is no piece of cake.
According to Yemisi, “My father, step mother and mother did a great deal of maneuverings, loving, scheming and putting themselves out for us children, to create and achieve a oneness in the face of great oppositions from our relatives. What really helped my parents was realising that:
Know that it’s a different ball game: In a mono family setting, it’s mostly about the spouse, but in a blended family, it’s all about the kids, your mate and making sure that everyone has a place in the family. This will go a long to smoothing out rough ends.
Do not compete with your counterpart: In other words, don’t try to be a better parent than their bio parent, because they will not want to admit or give you the satisfaction that you are a better parent. Instead, be present in their lives and avoid imposed fixing of things you are not called to fix. In other words, do not push your ideas down everyone’s throat.
Discover yours and step kids interest: As you would in any friendship move, find a common ground of interests and do enjoyable things together. Choose a role other than an imposing parent and foster that relationship.
Defer to the biological parent: It’s a must do! Whether it’s your mate or an ex parent, it’s important to refer to the biological parent for advice or discuss a better way to get to the child or children, even if it goes against your grain. If there’s a need for punishment, let your spouse deal with it, but support their decision.
Act lovingly even if it’s killing: Kids seem to act out, not necessarily because they have or want to, but because they see the new addition as the cause or the threat of whatever is going on between their parents and hate you for it. Loving them in spite of yourself, might pay off in the long run for both you and them (you’ll end up loving them).
Don’t allow ultimatums: Your kids, mate, step kids, even your partner may put you in a position where you might want to choose sides, don’t! Let them know you need them in your life and make them feel needed also.
Give some space: Allow your step kids, the other woman or man have one-on-one time with your spouse without you acting as a wet blanket, a spoil spot or a watch dog.
Yemisi’s home is polygamous I agree, but a monogamous blended family can also learn and benefit from Yemisi’s home, it’s an idle set worth emulating.
What makes for a successful blended family?
Knowing that it might not be love at first sight, even if you are congeniality personified, is a step in the right direction. Know also that to have or continue having success in your relationship, you need to follow these basic rules:
Rock-solid marriage: Unlike most first marriages, you’ll not have enough couple time, so you have to grow and mature into the marriage while parenting because you have an already made family. Your faith and trust in your better half has to be solid enough to withstand manipulations from the kids and in polygamous marriages from your mates.
Acceptance and honouring of developmental stages: Understanding that members of your family have different needs and special attention because of their varying ages and make –up, makes for a better bonding and understanding of the situation at hand and this in turn will make for a more solid happy home.
Respect and civility: Respect should not be age based, but that you all belong to the same family and so must and should respect and be civil to one another.
Communication is key: In every blended family, there should be two sets of rules; discipline and expectations. Ensure that you discuss ahead of time, things like values and beliefs; about limits and discipline, without which can result to conflicts which could trickle down to the relationship between the children and their stepparents.
Blending and bonding your new blended family: As a parent in a step or blended family, your main focus should be developing a positive relationship and achieving great success in considering and meeting the basic needs of everyone in the family with regards to; age, gender, temperance and personality
Children of any age want to feel secured and safe and be able to count on their parents or step parents. Understanding that these children are traumatized by the disruption of their seemly blissful home will help you be patient with them and when they are not so eager accepting any new parent, talk more of added strange children, you will empathize with them.
Coping with teens in a blended family
Teenagers tend to interpret body language and identify emotions through facial expressions, while adults use the rational part of their brain to read emotions. Teenagers rely on gut reaction and therefore can often be wrong. Basically this means a teenager might mistakenly think their parent, stepfather or stepmom is yelling at them or a peer insulting them when in reality it’s not the case.
Here’s are some of the developmental changes you might notice in your teenager child or step teenager child:
- Developing sense of self and testing moral issues with you
- Can be quite sullen and monosyllabic
- Debate or argue a lot of what you suggest
- Demand control over their own lives
- Have an increased ability to reason ways not to do or accept your biddings
- Older teens will naturally separate from their family as they seek to develop their own identity.
- Very self conscious and sensitive to criticism
- Can become upset if their views are questioned
- Behaviour can alternate between that of a child and adult
- Your teen or step teen will often believe their own faults should be overlooked?
- Being impatient is their stock in trade.
JOKE OF THE DAY
Bisi took her usual Saturday nap, waking up she told her husband Ayo her dream:
Bisi: I just dreamt you gave me a pearl necklace. Honey, what does that
Ayo: (With a smile) Well babe, I’ll give you the meaning tonight.
Later that night, Ayo came home with a small glittering package and gave this to his wife.
Excitedly she opened the package and found a book titled The Meaning of Dreams.