Valerie Gough was on a dog walk when she got to thinking about her extended family and other ‘blended’ families at Christmas time. So she put finger to keyboard in order to share her conclusions with other A&G readers:
A blended family Christmas. No, not a family of soup or smoothie lovers; a family of divorced parents, step children, step grand-children, blended parent in-laws, sister-in-laws and brother in-laws, not to mention nieces and nephews, even pets – it gets complicated. Think family holidays, Christmas, birthdays, weddings etc and my head starts to whirl.
Blended families is the current correct term I think, although I tend to say extended. An easier expression to use since our four children were all adults when we met and married. More tricky though, I’m sure, when it involves younger children.
I guess a more palatable language will develop over time but meantime we seem to be struggling with American imports. How about Heart mother or Bonus mother and Bonus children (??) currently doing the rounds on the internet. Or half-brother or half-sister – are you always to expect half a person? And it would seem we haven’t quite got comfortable with the term (wicked) step mother yet or found a suitable softer euphemism, taking into account the linguistic, cultural and social connotations. They all sound a bit ‘pre-loved’ like jumpers in a charity shop.
It seems as though some are trying to superimpose the mother term, but personally, I never wanted to be another mother. My son once said – when I asked him how he felt about the two step-sisters in his life – that he didn’t think of it in those terms. It was more a case of he gained a new bunch of friends. Great balanced perspective.
And so along comes Christmas and with it, already existing family demographics, dynamics and expectations in the ‘first’ families. It’s surprising to realise how many family unique holiday traditions there are once you are blended and extended. Trying to understand and fulfil some traditions that you weren’t part of initially, can be hard and require giganteum acts of diplomacy, fairness and tact, but can feel extra special when it all comes together.
Blended and extended families are more prevalent than ever before and with it comes a great increase in the size of your family! Personally, I now have four children as opposed to two, five grandchildren in total and two more brother in-laws with wives. We have also enjoyed a lovely couple of years or so of weddings of all the nieces and nephews! And the list goes on.
I think my Christmas message must be, embrace and enjoy, your life can be enriched with abundance you may not have had the opportunity to experience otherwise. Widowed fathers used to have to remarry out of necessity and fairy stories are full of wicked step monsters and usurpers but today I like to believe an extended family is created from the ground up and blended with love.
If you would like to read more from Valerie, you can find her other posts here.