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There’s nothing ‘Brady Bunch’ about blended families

Posted on Friday, September 17, 2010 in Divorce, love, Marriage, Parenting, Relationships, Singles

There will be a lot of tears shed soon.

Nothing to do with Sean and me breaking up. These aren’t sad tears — they’re the good kind.

A blogger I’ve come to know and love — Rachel Sarah, aka Single Mom Seeking — has not only stopped seeking, but she will also no longer be a single mom. In a week give or take, she’ll be marrying Lucky Guy.

Which, by the way, he is, although can’t help thinking that perhaps they’re both lucky, not only to have found each other but because only one of them, Rachel, has a kid.

I just don’t know how about blending families happily.

I know not everyone feels the way I do and I know that it’s hardly a unique thing, but the idea of a blended family scares the crap out of me — even though I laughed along with everyone else at “The Brady Brunch” (OK, please don’t
judge me!) when I
was growing up.   

Now that I could be
the stepmom in that scenario, not the stepkid, I’m just not laughing.
(And I’m not exactly sure why the stepkids would be laughing, actually;
two parents are more than enough let alone two sets).

It’s not that I don’t think
I could love another kid or kids as much as my own — I believe I could.

It’s not that I don’t think
a stepchild could like
me, if not love me —
it’s not like I’m some
wicked stepmom out of a Grimm’s fairy-tale; what’s not to like?

It’s not that I fear my kid wouldn’t get along with step-siblings — he’s pretty open-hearted and flexible.

It’s not that I worry about having to deal with the ex — you always have to deal with the ex, even if you’re “just” a girlfriend.

And it’s not that I worry that my partner would struggle with any of the above either; if he wasn’t a guy who could handle it, I obviously wouldn’t be marrying him. A boyfriend needs to step up to the plate.

So, what the hell is my problem?

Good question.

I’m not really sure what makes me fear blending families other than having an understanding and an appreciation for how hard it is to create any sort of family, let alone a mash-up families with a past.

There’s just no way to do that without freeing yourself of expectations of what it should look like and embracing what it actually is.

And, you know, most of us don’t do that very well.

There’s a lot of that stupid abusive stepfather/mean-spirited stepmother stuff still floating around — about as much as the “Oh, it will all work out if there’s love” crap. I wish the latter were true but relying solely on love rarely makes everything OK, and it bums me out to have to say that. A majority of second marriages — many of which involve kids — end in divorce. Like 60 percent or so. So, obviously “all you need is love” is as much a fantasy as believing Wonder Bread helps build a strong body 12 ways.

And that’s why I hesitate. Or maybe shudder. Or cringe. Or want to say, “I’m just not going there.”

Because I don’t want to put my kid or myself through that again.

And yet, there are families who are doing it, and doing it well. Instead of focusing on the 60 percent, I’d like to know about the 40 percent who’re thinking, “Hey, this is even better than I expected.”

Or at least willing to hang in there.

So, if you’re a happily blended family, I’d love to hear from you.

And if you’re not quite a happily blended family — or if you thought you were — I’d like to hear from you, too.

Photo © Tatyana Gladskih –

Bring on the comments

  1. jim
    Twitter: mobilene

    My first wife had a 9-year-old son when we married. I was crazy about the woman, but I knew darn well that I wasn’t going to marry her if her son didn’t like me. Unfortunately, he did like me, because the marriage was a flipping train wreck from start to finish. But my point here is that I can’t imagine becoming a stepdad again in a situation where the kids are against it happening.

  2. Babak Bamdad says:

    I know several people who are remarried and are now the step parents of their spouses kids. It takes a lot of work to gain the kid’s trust and respect, but in the end it’s worth the trouble. All the people that I know refer to the kid’s as their own- no one says my step kid. If you meet the right person and are willing to take the chance, you’ll see the rewards.

  3. Brandy
    Twitter: brandyellen

    We are a happily blended family. My husband and I have 2 sons together and then we have my daughter who is shared with her father. It’s usually pretty happily blended but it certainly is a struggle when the father of my daughter seems threatened by his almost 8 year old daughter having a good relationship with her step dad! Thanks for this post

  4. BigLittleWolf
    Twitter: BigLittleWolf

    It’s an important subject, and I think you come out and state what many of us may have held as a vague awareness in the backs of our minds – that moving into “serious” territory when kids from two families are involved can complicate an already tricky (second) coupling.

    Of course one of the major differences in the Brady Bunch (if memory serves) is that both were widowed and not divorced. No icky “ex” factor to deal with.

    As for successfully blended families – I’ve known several that have struggled, one that works well, and when I was considering it myself I had conflicting thoughts – less about my kids’ ability to “blend” and more about taking on two pre-schoolers when my own were 10 years past that.

  5. T
    Twitter: tsquest

    Well, as you may (or may not) know, my Rascal has two sons and I have two daughters. And we’re pretty darned scared of the blending families idea too!

    Our kids all see each other about one weekend every few months or so. The kids tolerate each other and at times, really enjoy each other… but it’s different. The girls pair off and the boys pair off. I would assume this is because of gender? Maybe? Who knows if Rascal had a daughter, maybe the dynamic would be different?

    Anyway, all that to say that we’re in no rush to solve the ‘who’s gonna move so we can all live together’ dilemma. Right now, we’re doing just fine.

  6. Henway says:

    I’ve never been in a blended family, but I agree with your sentiment that love is NOT all it takes. It requires awareness, listening, attention, and communication to make any family work, let alone a blended family. it also helps to let yourself go of any expectations of what a blended family should or will be like. Look at it as a different stage of life.

  7. KC says:

    Well, we now know that the KAT goes into hibernation once the temp gets over 100 degrees in Marin… here kitty, kitty, kitty…. you can come out now… it’s back down to a pleasant 89 degrees… at least up here in the North county…! (smiles)