BlendedFAMILY's Feature Column:

Blended, Not Stirred


Developing the Bridge
By Michaele Birney Arneson


"The more I know, the more I realize I don't know."

Last month, I introduced the Blended Family section of Busy Parents Online by providing my definition of a blended family: families in which one or both of the adults in a household is raising a child (or children) who is not their biological child.

In addition to being inclusive of a variety of non-traditional nuclear families, I suggest the term "blended" because individuals from separate family systems are being brought together under one roof, creating a new system through the blending of personalities, interests, perspectives, and often "other lives." None of the family members stop being who they were previously when they joined the new family system, but all family members involved blend into one new unit.

As easy as "blending" sounds on paper, it is often a difficult process, especially when some of those involved, usually the children, do not join the new family as a result of their own decision. A child may have resentment toward the non-biological parent; they may mistrust adults in general; they may be still suffering grief resulting from a loss of their biological parent(s), whether a permanent loss or loss by lack of togetherness.

But if you're at this site, you probably already know that blending can be difficult, and you may be looking for advice. Unfortunately, there are no easy answers, and what works for one family may throw another into complete chaos. My hope is that you may find some information through the resources on this site that will serve as a bridge to getting you where you need to be in your particular situation.

For example, as noted in the article "Get the Family Organized This Summer," family meetings are a good way to not only get organized, but also set the groundwork for thorough family communication. Although different families may use different techniques, family communication is essential in building a successful blended family, and the approach outlined in that article is one
suggestion for developing open communication.

The article tips provide a way to keep the family organized, another essential in a family that may have children splitting time between different families. Not only do you want to ensure that each family member is able to adequately participate in activities that interest them, but you also want to be able to schedule family events as well.

One family event that may be appropriate for your blended family is picnic day scheduled on Saturday, September 13. More information on this nationally designated day can be found in "National Stepfamily Day is September 16; Picnics Scheduled for September 13."

For this month, I leave you with a quote from Shel Silverstein's book, Where the Sidewalk Ends. "This bridge will take you halfway there -- the last few steps you will have to take yourself."

Send your ideas, comments, and suggestions to me at If you are interested in contributing an article, essay, or other materials for the Blended Family section, see Blended Family Writing Guidelines for details.

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