Start the Conversation….
24 Feb 2017
By…Laura, WAF Board Member and Mom of four
It occurred to me on my way back from China recently how modern day people still look at me dumbfounded when I say I have a blended family. I was sitting on a plane and the gentlemen next to me (a retired licensed clinical social worker) introduced himself and I did as well. As the conversation progressed, he spoke to me about his life and children and proceeded to ask me about my family. When the question arose as to how many kids I had, I gladly told him that I am in a blended family and I am a blended mom of four. [Insert pregnant pause] Politely, he asked, “What does that mean?” So I started the conversation…
*John explained his experiences within the education system and how difficult it had been with children in “broken” families. The lack of cohesiveness within the family unit caused innumerable behavioral, educational and emotional problems for the children. I thought to myself, YES! He recognizes the need. I explained to him that blended is working together with parents regardless of biology. I explained the legal responsibilities involved and that the organization, WAF, is encouraging the judicial system not only to recognize, but to implement certain language to support this as well. He seemed very interested and ultimately agreed.
This is one example of many throughout our lives as blended parents that we experience (sometimes daily) on having to explain our family dynamic. I often ask myself, “why can’t it be simple??” I am a Mom. Why do we feel the need to have to explain our position in our family? Why do we need to prove that we do in fact love, care, support our children and see us as just that? We are not some antiquated character from Cinderella. Biological parents, regardless of character, are impervious to such immediate judgment.
I know there are times we are exhausted and it doesn’t seem fair that, unlike biological parents, we have to overcompensate our emotions and participate in lengthy conversations proving our love. However, regardless of how tired or annoyed we are by this, we must start the introduction of forward thinking to others. Instead of hiding that you have “step” kids, bring it up and brag about it. I always get a kick of how I talk proudly of all of my children and how squeamish others at times around feel or instantly change the conversation. This often surprises me with all the supporting data that recognizes how many blended families exist TODAY. However, if society is unaware how hurtful those behaviors can be, we must teach them. We know not all will listen, but certainly worth a try. In order for society to change antiquated thinking, blended parents must start the conversation with others confidently. Be proud of who you are and your family dynamic. Trust me, there are more people in our family dynamics that need your support too.
As in my experience on the plane, I seized that moment in time as an opportunity to reach out- even if it is simply one person, perhaps they may see families through another lens: one not of divisiveness, but one of love.