My husband and I have a blended family. Between the two of us we share six children and four live with us full time. They range in age from 10-18 years. If anyone says there aren’t huge transitional adjustments involved in such an undertaking, I would beg to differ.
It’s one thing to be a blended family, and it is quite another to be successful at it.
My husband and I entered into blending a family with much trepidation. When you think about it, bringing multiple kids from different scenarios is not the norm when you look at the whole concept of family. In addition to sharing a home together, starting over includes establishing new traditions, new routines, new schedules, new rules and new relationships. It affects everyone differently. I also found it was easier for some of our kids to adjust to them than others.
Obviously we needed outside resources to help pave the way in terms of communicating, step coupling and blending a family successfully. I liked the idea of books geared for the younger kids and I found a variety that fit our situation, making them very relatable to our children. I felt it provided an authentic voice for the kids, rather than a how to manual for them to read. The best part about it? My kids loved them.
Some of my favorites include an older book by a author I have loved dearly since childhood. “Dear Mr. Henshaw” by Beverly Cleary details the story of a 10 year old boy who adjusts to a new life when his parents divorce. The book details moving into a new home and school, including the new relationships he cultivates.
Paula Danziger is another popular author who passed in 2004, but her legacy of writing about blended families, divorce and family life, live on. “It’s An Aardvark – Eat – Turtle World” is about 2 best girlfriends moving in together after their parents combine households. Our two youngest girls are a year apart in age who thankfully, get along beautifully. I loved how this book was so similar to their experience. The book presents an interesting parallel in becoming friends AND sisters.
Canadian author, Gina DeBrincat, put together an incredibly resourceful book entitled, “Matrix Of The Blended Family’. We found this book to be a wonderful handbook and resource in navigating waters of raising a newly formed family. Her approach is unique as she divided her book into the 4 seasons, symbolizing each season in the life of a blended family.
Finally, “Remarried With Children” by Barbara LeBey gives 10 secrets for successfully blending and extending your family. I love how her book details boundaries, decision making, meeting the needs of the children while keeping the new marriage intact, healthy step parenting and navigational aids.
Through all the changes I am finding a key factor in making this work. Patience. Blending a family successfully doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, years even. We are all adjusting and it will continue to evolve and be rocky and lovely and scary and uncomfortable but I know the work,especially if it provides stability and a strong foundation for our children,will be worth it.