A blended family, according to Wiktionary, is a stepfamily in which both new mates have one or more living children from prior partners.
With the high level of ‘hit-and-run’ relationships witnessed in Kenya now; I guess it’ll be safe to insinuate 20% or slightly more of families formed in this era are blended. The most affected group being ladies who have been left by the deadbeat fathers to raise children either single-handedly or with a distant help. Single parenthood can also be stemmed from separations, death of a spouse and or divorce.
As nature has it, everyone needs love, companionship, and having have met one ‘bad’ person, one cannot bundle up humanity as a complete bad race! (Otherwise we all need one another). You will agree with me that even the good book is not left out: The book of Ecclesiastes 4:7-12 for instance, is in agreement with this article as seen below;
‘Again I saw something meaningless under the sun: there was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were content with his wealth. “For whom am I toiling,” he asked, “and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?” chapter 9 continues “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their work.” Companionship is undoubtedly a good thing; as further alluded by the preceding verses of this chapter.
For further reading of the same kind, you can check the book of Mathew 19: 5-6. For God saw it fit for a man and a woman to live together as one- I digress a little, though under the topic of love still.
While each individual has a reason as to why they left or were left, that notwithstanding, the bottom line is, each one of us deserve to be happy. Research has proven that the only thing under the sun that can either make the heart grow younger, or frail is this magic word LOVE.
As everything we face comes with its fair share of challenges, blended families are not any different. This kind of union cannot be compared to a single unit family started on a scratch. Instead this, especially since children are involved, an extra grace is overwhelmingly needed to weave through the hearts of people involved and a realization of an ultimate blend, as the name suggests.
You can imagine, waking up one day and you are a mother of teenagers, three, four, five or six children! It’s like giving birth to a baby and before you know it, the toddler is up and running! The typical terrific twos kind of a situation! (Another classical example is of the popularly told story of a potential suitor who was thrown in a crocodile-infested river, which he successfully swam through; – in fear of course- without an attack from the crocodile, only to be crowned as the chief’s son-in-law)
Let’s say these children are old enough to know what is going on, you are not their biological parent. (I know some who are not biological parents who are doing great jobs, and sadly, their step children would love them to stick more than their own parents of flesh and blood). You are walking into their lives, they had a life before you, remember, and you guys have to work around and form one solid unit.
So, what are some of the things one should either arm themselves with or know before or when forming a blended family? Here are some of the incredible ways to make it a smooth sail:
- Communicate with one another
Communication is a great tool in marriage, do not assume that they will know what to do. Remember this is a family that had already been established on certain grounds. You’ll likely not agree with everything that has been governing them; therefore, this calls for a well-articulated, communicative principles. If well executed, will work magic.
Therefore, learn to communicate your feelings as often as you can, with love and sobriety. For if you attack them, they might have a different opinion of you. You might be meaning well, but your awful approach will override your genuine intentions. You don’t want to grow enemies from your ‘children’ but build one single unit of a strong family.
- Be open-minded
Be open minded , all the three parties your family constitute, that is; you, your spouse and your children, are all wired differently, you can opt to learn one another spacely- one day at a time-, you are not perfect, and might meet some resistant, it might not even be from your nuclear family but extended. Be clear with your partner, on who should be dealing with the extended family, especially the side of a previous spouse. If it’s not in your area of jurisdiction, then avoid it before you make more enemies (remember these are still their relatives and you can’t avoid that, so tread carefully, but maintain your stance for the betterment of your family.)
This is now your family, you and your spouse are in-charge, chatter it as you will and deem fit. Lay out your house rules and don’t compromise on anything that will affect your family either positively or negatively.
- Do not show favoritism
Now, this is a very tricky area to deal with, you are blending with this family, and as you blend, there is maybe one or two children whose behaviors are out of this world! You feel charmed! They blow your mind away with their exceptional character and as a human being you feel persuaded to spoil them silly, in appreciation. This, at the expense of the other who might be displaying unwanted character (could be of laziness or one who wears a long face from morning to morning). PLEASE DON’T! This can cause unwanted animosity among the children. As an adult, you can play around this and only give incentives where due.
Sibling rivalry is real and can go deep into their adult lives. Try as much as you can to treat them equally, of course you have to applaud a child where they have done well, in order to motivate them more.
Be forewarned! The greatest sin to commit in a blended family is to love your own blood more! Children have hawk eyes, they see what you don’t even consider ‘evil’ as one. So treat them equal. Remember you are part of them and, in instances where they lost a biological parent, you would not want them crying to God to ‘bring back their parent’. In which case, you’ll be inviting God’s wrath.
In conclusion, create true friendship amongst you, overlook minor things and focus on God. Do not operate a blended family as if you are waiting for a return or pat on the back. Instead do it as if you are doing something you love, don’t pressure yourself with unnecessary things that do not add value. If you are in it, then you can make it, if you are yet to join one, then ask God for guidance for this is for the strong-hearted. And I guess you are!