This is a guest post by life coach and author, Elif Ekin, who I met online, and who instantly felt like a good friend. If she lived closer, I’m sure we’d have already gone out for coffee! I asked Elif if she wanted to guest post, and she chose to write about blended families. Wow, do i have a lot to say on that subject! But first, read Elif’s post!
Blending Families, by Elif Ekin
You have moved through your divorce and healing your relationship with your Ex…Lovely!!
You have taken your time, found a new life partner, and have built a solid foundation to blend your 2 families…Blissful!!
Your Ex has found a new partner and they have integrated your child into their life with love…How Nice!
Happy Happy Joy Joy, Right?
No, not always happy and not always joyful. Blending families seems to be harder than the actual divorce at times. Divorce has an endpoint, dealing with new partners and new emerging insecurities will be an ongoing part of the process.
With so many new parental figures in the picture, the biggest insecurity to raise its ugly hairy head is the “Replacement Factor” which asks the question: Can this new person replace me in my child’s heart?
Blending Families reminds me of that circle stacking game your child had when she was 1 or 2, building to create a solid foundation for the new relationships between the adults as well as with the children.
Circle 1: The couple
Circle 2: Children and the Parental figures
Circle 3: The Ex’s and their new partners.
Circle 4: The In-Laws, Ex In-Laws and new In-Laws.
Circle 5: Mutual Friends
The Key is balance. Now, you are not only balancing your new relationship, you are mindful of how your relationship is impacting others insecurities. The dominant question that has been asked to me by my Ex is : Does our daughter know who her real father is? The dominant question asked by my partner’s Ex: Is she trying to steal my girls away from me? Let’s pull the Ex’s new girlfriend into the mix who has never had kids: I would be a better mother than you to your child!
How do you handle all this and maintain your balance for yourself, your relationship, and for your children?
- Remove yourself from the emotion emanating from the conversation. DO not take it personal. Their statements and insecurities have nothing to do with you. As long as you know that you hold yourself with integrity and support all the relationships with the children, you have done nothing to defend yourself against.
- Register where their words fall in your body: Is there something being triggered in you that you need to work on?
- Reflect on your strengths and know what you need to do to maintain you center.
- Remember, you couldn’t change your Ex. By extension, you can’t change anyone else, only your response.
The children are the most important element when blending families. It is about creating and nurturing loving environments for them to grow. Hold them in your heart with unconditional love and that will create a solid foundation to support them and their relationships with all the new parental figures in their life. It is not your job to solve the other’s insecurities. It is theirs. Respect where everyone is in their growth and support them without judgment.
Elif, thank you! Great post. I can’t resist taking this one step further. Here’s what you’ve got when you blend families:
Kids go from having 2 parents to 4, and then step brothers/sisters that they now live with at times. They hate it. I don’t care how much they tell you they are okay with it, they hate it. Now, does that mean you shouldn’t move in with the guy you’ve fallen madly in love with? No. I’m not saying that. What I’m saying is, don’t force things. Don’t make your kids do stuff with their kids all the time. Make sure you spend time alone with your kids. And, if your new husband/wife is cool with that, that’s wonderful! If not, you have to make him or her cool with it.
Also, Elif is so right about the fact that you can’t control your ex’s new wife or husband. All you can control is how YOU act, and how you are respond to behavior on their part that you sometimes hate. If he or she hates you, so what? That’s his/her problem, not yours. If she’s petty, doesn’t say hi to you, that’s entirely HER deal. Don’t even say anything to your kids. Just leave it alone.
My favorite part of Elif’s post: “Hold them in your heart with unconditional love that will create a solid foundation to support them and their relationships with all the new parental figures in their life.” In other words, just be there for them. Or, i should say, KEEP being there for them.
I do believe you can be happy in a blended family, but that there are ways to handle things that make certain blended families happier than others. The ones who are the happiest are the ones who don’t push so much, who respect that their kids dont want another dad (or mom) and that that person is there for them not as a parent, but as a mentor, and yet another support person who loves them, who they can lean on in life if they need to.
Thanks again for the great post!
Elif Ekin is an Entrepreneur, Life Coach, and Author. She has her M.A. In European History, cooks highly addictive Baklava and Middle Eastern pastries for local cafes and special order, and conducts various healing workshops around Salt Lake City. Her company, Divorceé Café, is a Salt Lake City, Utah based company that provides Life coaching.