‘To blend’ means to mix one thing with another until they are combined. ‘Blended’ conjures up images of the best banana smoothie you’ve ever tasted – with all the ingredients combined together in perfect taste-bud tantalising harmony. But successful stepfamilies know they may react more like a vingarette than a smoothie. With effort oil and vinegar come together to enhance the taste of any green salad, but when left to settle they maintain their original identities forming individual but connected layers.
Trying to be a smoothie when you’re actually a vinaigrette can only lead to confusion, disappointment, frustration and – even worse – feelings of failure.
The reality is the term ‘blended family’ has no place in stepfamily life. ‘Blended’ in its true sense is not only unachievable but also extremely limiting for stepfamilies. In fact, avoiding the whole notion of blending is a sure fire way to help your stepfamily succeed.
Stop blending and start your family.
The bottom line is that forcing or expecting yourself, your partner and the kids to ‘blend’ is not going to get any of you anywhere but down the long road of resentment. In fact, Wednesday Martin, PhD and author of the book ‘Stepmonster’ believes ‘failing to blend’ is essential for developing positive stepfamily relationships. This is because in failing to blend you aren’t trying to change yourself, your partner or the kids into something new and perfect. Nor are you trying to replicate a first family. Failing to blend let’s you focus your energy on what is right in front of you and on creating a stepfamily and life you love!
so, How can you make sure you suck at blending?
Sucking at blending just takes a bit of ‘accepting’ and a bit of common sense.
- Spend time getting to know each member of your stepfamily individually.
- Don’t place more importance on one relationship over another.
- Build new traditions together but don’t get rid of old ones.
- Limit expectations – don’t expect love and kisses all around or even at all.
- Give yourself time to come together as a family – don’t rush it.
- Really listen and do your best to understand what motivates and makes each member of your family ‘tick’
- Accept and celebrate each family member’s unique differences at every opportunity.
- Notice and enjoy moments of happiness when they happen.
By sucking at blending you are choosing to create a stepfamily that marches to the beat of its own drum. You give yourself permission to get rid of others’ expectations about what your family ‘should’ look like so you can create the amazing family you know you can be!
We’d love you to share your ideas about how you helped your stepfamily ‘fail to blend’ with our fabulous stepfamily community in the comments below.