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
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."