Updated: Sep 1, 2021
5 September 2020
As the title depicts, I thought…. blended families before Christ…What??? You mean to tell me that blended families date further than I could have ever perceived?! You guessed it! Yep! Blended families are depicted in the great book, “The Holy Bible”! My beloved recorded blended family in the Old Testament of the Bible, is the family of King David. David had at least 8 wives and over 20 children. I am certain he could not keep them all satisfied which led to turmoil and rifts among his wives and children.
Key things we learn from King David’s blended family:
Like and love is not the same! You may have an equal love for all your children but, like every relationship, our personalities and similarities matter, and have great influence in our relationships with our children. You will not like your children the same. In fact, the more you relate to one of your children and that child relates to you, the greater the relational bond the two of you will share. This could create jealousy and envy with your other children and the other parent(s) of your other children.
Awareness is key! Do not turn a blind eye. Do not love your children so much that you do not encourage them to be integral and, you dismiss their wrongdoings. Life is like a merry-go-round and the costs of what you overlook in the current weighs much more in the future.
Make your expectations of your children clear in early childhood. Discipline is an act of love. “Train up a child in the way they should go, and when they are old, they will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). Simplified, this means to teach your children the way of life you expect them to live and while they may get stirred up in ways against your teaching, they will always go back to what they know. As a therapist, I teach this all the time when discussing trauma. An example, how we respond to our first situation of trauma, is training for how we will respond to every situation of trauma. Do we run? Do we fight? Do we freeze? This is the same for young children becoming grown children. If they are disciplined for stealing a toy at a young age, they are likely to weigh the consequences of stealing in adulthood. Contrary, if children are not disciplined for stealing, they are being trained to believe that stealing has no consequences and is an appropriate act to engage. If you hold the same standard of discipline for all your children, they gain equality.
Mo’ Money, Mo’ Money, Mo’ Money! Inheritance poses great concern in blended families. The question when a mutual parent passes becomes, who inherits what and why. Make clear in a will or trust how you desire your assets to be split. Do the underage children gain more inheritance due to their dependence on you? Does your irresponsible adult child obtain her inheritance partially, while your responsible adult stepchild obtains her inheritance in one disbursement? Do not leave your children fighting to figure out the inheritance. Have these conversations while you are still breathing.
More blending, more drama! Now, do not get all twisted in your pants. I love the idea of a healthy blended family. But, lets face it. The more people you involve in the family structure, the more likely you are going to experience an abundance of conflict. Relationships can get confusing, especially if not carefully explained to children. The more confusion the more difficulty there is to create a bonding structure due to the involvement of the different households. Make sure your family structure is explicitly understood by all involved persons.
Author: Brittney Collins-Jefferson, LCSW, LCADCI