Here's a Story: Two Families with Children Can't Easily Become One

Article excerpt

Byline: Ken Potts

Families just don't blend.

"Blended families" are families with a husband and wife and their kids from previous marriages.

We also call them "stepfamilies," "reconstituted families," "remarriages" and, at least among today's teens, "Brady Bunch families."

But no matter what we call them, we need to stop expecting them to blend.

Blending suggests that two families can come together and become one family. Maybe we assume we will somehow put aside all the differences and quirks which make our families unique and meld into yet another new, totally different family.

Or maybe we expect that one family will win out over the other and impose its own style on the new family.

Whatever our expectations, families don't work that way. You see, a family's uniqueness is the result of generation upon generation of family development.

Our great-grandparents, grandparents and parents all contributed to the family we are now. And this family heritage is then molded and shaped even more by our family's life experiences.

Just getting married without kids requires a major effort of sorting out family differences. Almost all of us can recall minor or major marital skirmishes based on nothing more than the different ways our families did things.

Fortunately, most adults can work through these differences and create a new family which is a composite of both partners' family heritage and beliefs about what family should be all about.

When two parents remarry, however, the children involved simply are not able to pull this off. In fact, their sense of family uniqueness may be the one thing they have held on to to get them through their parents' divorce. …