I recall reading something in a book while researching stepfamilies before we got married… It shocked me and of course I thought it was ridiculous. I read it takes approximately 8 years for a blended family to “blend”… I thought to myself, “yeah, yeah… we can do this in like 2! We have researched the best ways to prepare for this new journey, we aren’t naïve… 8 years is a bit much!” Well… I admit, it’s been a lot longer than 2! We have been married almost 4 years and these 4 years have been extremely challenging. Challenging to the point of wondering if you made the right choice by trying to “blend a family”… The truth is, depending on the ages of the children, the family may never “blend”. Blended families, in a normal sense, are a myth… the thought of your new family being anything like a “normal family” is as far- fetched as thinking the sky is falling. By the way, I don’t believe in the “normal family” either. Every family has their problems, issues, skeletons, luggage, etc. so who is to say what normal is?
After 4 years of trying to survive our quest to blend a family, I think we finally agree blended families do not work. Not to what the ideal we had was anyway. Yes, you will have good days, weeks, even months, then BAM! Yep, you guessed it… You find yourself struggling again because the NachoKids aren’t living up to your standards or they are driving you insane with their poor manners/ lack of respect. Guess what sunshine; your “standards” are completely void unless they are your spouse’s/significant other’s standards as well… If you didn’t birth the babies, chances are you need to learn the NachoKids mentality and remind yourself of it constantly.
Okay, back to the subject at hand: First of all, in order to even try to make this work, there has to be commitment to not give up from the Nacho parent and the biological parent. If every time something seems to not go the right way or is too hard, you state “I can’t do this, or this isn’t working”, you will never be at peace within the NachoFamily. “Normal” families have ups and downs, why do you think you are going to have the easy life with the mixture of several “normal” families? Buckle up and prepare to ride it out. Teach the NachoKids giving up is not an option. You can get rid of the NachoParent but guess what, unless you want to be single until your kids are out of the house, you have to work on this at some point in your life. And, you definitely don’t want your kids/NachoKids to think it is normal for relationships to end just because things get hard or just because something isn’t working at the moment. Everyone, including the children – Nacho and birth – need a sense of stability and not wondering if the NachoParent and Bio-Parent will split up or if the NachoKids can “get them to” split up because they don’t like the situation. There is of course the given that if one child sees another one making progress with splitting the family up, the others are likely to join the band wagon or repeat the same thing later because they think separating is an option. Remember children are easily influenced and manipulative, so if someone is being negative about the NachoParent or telling the NachoKids they have a choice whether or not they visit the other Bio-Parent, you can expect things to get harder… Many Bio-Parents (baby’s mamas or baby’s daddies) hurt their own children by trying to be their friend – and not the bad parent, and by trying to create a wedge between the NachoMom/NachoDad and the NachoKids. Unless you are one of the lucky few where the other bio-parent realizes the importance of supporting you in the new role with their kids, you can bet you are not getting any kudos thrown in from the other bio-parent. In fact, don’t be surprised if they tell the NachoKids they aren’t supposed to love you, they aren’t supposed to like you, they don’t have to listen to you, they can disrespect you or they can just plain out be rude, crude and socially unacceptable when it comes to the NachoMom (step-mom) or NachoDad (step-dad). The sad thing is, these “extra” people in our kids’ lives can be very important. Personally, I want my child’s step-dad/step-mom to love him… and him to love them. It’s hard enough to adjust to being a new family unit (NachoFamily – or blended family if you prefer) without added outside influences. So, if you have these outside influences, expect a much rougher ride. Just as if you have your own child in the NachoFamily, expect a bumpier ride than someone who does not have children and their feelings to add to the mix.
Learn and live by the NachoKids mentality and watch things settle down and most of all, notice you aren’t as stressed out about things as you were before trying to live by the NachoKids mentality.
- It is not your place to hold the NachoKids to higher standards than their biological parents do.
- You married or chose to be in a relationship with the NachoKids’ dad/mom. It is his/her responsibility to raise their kids – the NachoKids.
- NachoKids are to be treated just like any other friend’s child/children.
(a) Make sure they don’t “kill” each other or anybody else, feed them as needed, make them bathe daily and brush teeth twice a day, help them when they need it, do not criticize them (or their biological parents) and love them.
Pitfalls to avoid:
It is too easy to “not like” or not have that loving feeling toward the NachoKids because of something their other parent did or did not do to get your goat (southern phrase for make you mad)… remember, the NachoKids are not the ones making your life difficult. They are adjusting too.
Keep in mind too, there are many types of NachoFamilies. And the ages of the NachoKids does change the dynamics as well. There can also be situations where the person your significant other has kids by more than one person, so that just extends the complexity of the NachoFamily. Just remember, every crazy feeling, every time you question yourself, every “rough time” is normal… You are not alone in this, others may be afraid to share their stories because of retaliation from their significant other or judgment from others… Speak up, share your story, help others to know what to expect and things that worked and didn’t work for you.
Don’t be afraid or feel like you are failing, this isn’t easy, but it’s not impossible!