By Honey Good. I am the mother and grandmother of a happily blended family. It took tender loving care and lots of sleepless nights. I must confess, with pride, that I learned by trial and error how to be a step-mother (I do not like the term) and a step-grandmother to my successful blended family. We have adult children, their spouses and 20 grandchildren. We are a large cast of characters and we all love each other very much. This is my story and the set of guidelines I established to earn that love and respect.
My Motto: Tolerance, Attention, Wisdom, Trust And Participation My Rule: To blend a family successfully is all about the children—not about us.
Both sets of our children lost a parent. At that time my husband and I had to give them space and time to grieve. When we got married, a few short years after their deaths, we again, needed to give them time and space. This was a very difficult adjustment for all of us. They missed their parent and we dreamed for acceptance. I do not know the ramifications of divorce but I am sure it is just as difficult as each parent pulls the children in their direction.
Honey Good’s Blended Family Rules
- Tolerance. Adult children will resist a blended family and you must be very aware of this. The entire dynamic of their family is changing. This is a very difficult time in their lives. Their first feeling of stability, in the new family, will come when they see a strong relationship between you and your spouse. You are the head of the family and the bond between the two of you will eventually give them a sense of security. Through your actions, they will feel your desire to blend the family, whatever it takes. And, it will take a lot. Once this is accomplished the grandchildren slide into place.
- Attention. You cannot develop a relationship with your children and grandchildren (and they are all yours) without giving your blended family personal attention. I pay attention. A lot. I email, text, call, listen to problems and laugh at stories. Attention shows caring and this builds the bond of love and trust. Do not expect them to call you as often. Your joy should come from knowing that they are glad to hear from you. Our family is all over the country from Chicago and Indiana to Los Angeles and Texas. Distance does not matter. I keep in touch.
- Wisdom. As women, we have been blessed with tools of wisdom. Use them. Each child has his or her distinct personality. You must be sensitive to the changes of each child and use your tools of wisdom.
- Trust. Share secrets and never break your pledge. I do this all the time. Help with a problem between the blended siblings or grandchildren and arrive at a conclusion that is good for all. This will create the best trust, showing no favorites.
- Participation. Togetherness. Travel to events. Invite the whole clan or a few at a time to your home. Go to the children’s home for dinner and celebrations when asked. Travel with a grandchild or two from different families. Spend one-on-one time together and and make sure they all know how important they are! Blend! Blend! Blend!
I am not a therapist by any stretch of the imagination. But I do know what to do. It is my maternal instinct. Yes, I worked hard through the trials and errors of feeling my way into the world of the blended family but once I arrived…I really arrived! I feel joy when I think of all the grandchildren. Eight are mine, seven are my husbands, three are our son-in-law’s children from another marriage and two have married into our family! I am Honey to all of them and they are all my grandchildren.
We love each other. How lucky is that!