I am the mother and grandmother of a large, blended family.
Having a blended family requires tender loving care… and lots of sleepless nights. I must confess, with pride, that I learned by trial and error how to be a step-mother — although I do not like the term — and a step-grandmother to my blended family.
We have adult children, their spouses, and 25 grandchildren. We are a large cast of characters and we all love each other very much. This is my story and the set of guidelines I established to nourish that love and respect.
Keys to Blended Success
My Motto: Tolerance, Attention, Wisdom, Trust, and Participation.
My Rule: To blend a family successfully is all about the children—not about us.
Both sets of our children lost a parent. When children lose a parent, they need space and time to grieve. When a widowed parent remarries, the children again need time and space. This is a very difficult time for children, no matter their ages.
This was a very difficult adjustment for all of us. They each missed their deceased parent and Shelly & I dreamed of acceptance. I do not know the ramifications of divorce, personally, but I am sure it is just as difficult as each parent often pulls the children in different directions.
Adult children will resist a blended family and you must be very aware of this. The entire dynamic of their family is changing. This is a very difficult time in their lives.
Their first feeling of stability, in the new family, will come when they see a strong relationship between you and your spouse. You are the head of the family and the bond between the two of you will eventually give them a sense of security.
Through your actions, they will feel your desire to blend the family, whatever it takes. And, it will take a lot. More than you can imagine.
I believe that there is no expiration date to successfully blending a family, meaning that even if it takes years and years, you keep working at it. No parent is perfect, we make mistakes, we fall down and yet, we love without condition, without restriction, and without expiration. I love each and every member of my blended family and no amount of time nor distance can change that.
You cannot develop a relationship with your children and grandchildren (and they are all yours) without giving your blended family personal attention. I pay attention. I email, text, call, listen to problems, and laugh at stories.
Attention shows caring and this builds the bonds of love and trust.
Do not expect them to call you as often as you call them. Your joy should come from knowing that they are glad to hear from you. Our family is all over the country. Distance is very very challenging, but it does not lessen my commitment and care for each and every member of our blended family.
As women, we have been blessed with tools of wisdom. Use them.
Each child has his or her distinct personality. You must be sensitive to the changes of each child and use your tools of wisdom.
When your Grands share secrets, do not break your pledge to keep them. I do this all the time. Help with a problem between the blended siblings or grandchildren and arrive at a conclusion that is good for all. This will create the best trust, showing no favorites.
Walk the Walk
Togetherness. Travel together. Go to special events. Gather at the holidays; invite the whole clan or a few at a time to your home. Go to the children’s’ homes for dinner and celebrations when asked. Travel with a grandchild or two from different families. Spend one-on-one time together and make sure they all know how important they are. Blend, blend, blend!
I am not a therapist by any stretch of the imagination. But I do know what to do. It is my maternal instinct. I feel joy when I think of all 25 0f our grandchildren. I am “Honey” to all of them and they are all my grandchildren.
I love them without pause and without end. Even when there are bumps in the road, and even when those bumps last too long, my dedication to them is unwavering. There have been challenges and, no doubt, there always will be, but that does not diminish how lucky I feel to be in love with this blended family of mine.
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