During my childhood, I was not without plenty of guardianship. I had a wonderful mother and father, exceptional grandmothers and a very willing stepmother. I was loved, included, cared for, encouraged and supported. I was blessed to have an ongoing support system and there were no feelings of exclusion, even though my dad married when I was very young and remained in my home city of Austin while my mother moved us back to her home city of Houston. I recall when my daddy sat me down to tell me that due to my relocating to Houston, we wouldn’t see one another every weekend like we had been and I cried hysterically! I can only imagine what may have been going through my 9-year-old mind then.
I was glued to his hip with my other siblings as he refereed basketball games, played flag football with his buddies, hosted shindigs countlessly in his home. I watched him tap his fingers against his leg as if he was playing an instrument as he blasted Cameo while we coasted down the freeway from grocery store runs where he ALWAYS knew someone (he still taps his imaginary drum while driving and he still knows someone everywhere he goes). I would miss him combing my hair almost better than my mom. Yes, I carried his last name, but, more importantly, I carried his love for me in my heart and I carried the non-stop experiences of just having my Pops even though my parents were no longer an item. My stepmom even fussed at my dad a time or two on my behalf because he wouldn’t let me have my way; and then eventually I got my way – talk about support, honey! LOL!
Today, I am a mother and thus far I can’t think of a more challenging, unpredictable, rewarding experience in this journey called life. I have witnessed blended families both personally and by just scrolling through my timeline and there are variations of it. My children belong to a set of parents who are divorced but my commitment to them like the majority of parents, runs deep.
What I want to point out is what happens when biological parents allows the blended lines to become so blurry that their namesake has feelings of forsakenness? It is expected to embrace children of one’s companion and truthfully said companion should have no dealings with anyone attempting to build a life with them and not the beautiful extensions of them. But what is not expected is that the biological children are left to hang on to remnants of their parent(s) while children with more direct accessibility to the parent reap the very things that any child would need from a parent.
Attentiveness, well checks, random visits to school expressing an interest in their progress, school programs, sporadic plans to just spend time with them and all of the other items on the to-do list of a parent with a healthy take on the role itself. My mother said something to me when my eldest was just an infant and I can’t quite remember what led her to the statement. But she said, “once a parent, always a parent.” Now I know that may not sound profound to some people, but for me, I saw past the surface of that statement and realized that no matter how old my children get, as long as I am alive, I will have to parent them in some way. I may not have to change their diaper, feed them with a spoon, drop my daughter off at the movies or my son to football practice, but I will most certainly have to parent them even when they are 35-years-old. I will still be drying tears whether it’s from a failed relationship or if they got picked over for their dream job. I will still have to give sound advice when they’re on the brink of an irrational decision and I will likely have to check them when they get too sassy thinking they can because they’re finally paying their own bills. That is what she meant. And today BOTH of my parents still parent me.
A child, especially a minor child, should never have to question their position in the life of a parent under blended circumstances or any other for that matter. There should always be the will of a parent to make sure that the children are a priority at all times. There should never be failed participation in a child’s life influenced by convenience, manipulation and the dependability of others resources of which you should have your own anyway. Parental absenteeism can be a direct source to low self-esteem, lack of confidence and misguided anger, not to mention hurt. Yes, children are very resilient and bounce back from life’s curve balls most of the time better than most adults. But should they have to be resilient to matters of this nature? Over time the effects of constant exclusions, let downs and being too far down on the priority list will begin to show.
I’ve seen brick walls built in children who are trying to protect themselves from being hurt by someone as innocent as a school friend. I’ve seen kids with the gift of goodbye that we grown folks should adopt, all because they don’t see a need to sort out differences believing it will just be another let down to sort out in two more weeks with the same person. And allowing the children to feel less blended by one parent unknowingly or not, forces the other parent to have to work overtime to help them sort out their hurt and disappointment.
The flowery portion of this subject is that blended families can work and do work! I must say, however, that in order for that to happen effectively, the adults…the parents, have to be firmly convicted on how they intend to do that and not allow outside sources to sway those convictions on how to succeed at it. And if you aren’t sure what success at blending a family looks like, it looks like a child with a radiant smile and an unbroken heart.
If you feel open enough to share, please express any experience you may have had with blended families, whether good or bad.
Until next time Xpressers, happy loving and parenting!