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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Kids In Blended Families: Honor the Old, Nurture the New

When I consider the unique needs of children raised in blended families, one thing that stands out are the variety of relationships that unfold in unique ways.  Within our one family unit, we have three different parenting schedules at play.  Change is the standard way of life, so it magnifies each child's desire for consistency.  Honoring the original bonds is a key way to provide steady, consistent security for children from tots to teens, and even through adulthood.

Sometimes, I crave unstructured time with the three little souls that began their lives with me.  We know each other better than anyone and we share a wealth of history.  We each value the time we share with just us, honoring the ties that began before our family blended.  My husband and step daughters thank me over and over when I encourage them to go out on a "date" with just the three of them.

In the same way, continue the traditions and rituals that you began before your families blended.  Some of these may be adopted by everyone, others may remain your own private personal privilege.  Nighttime prayers, Sunday morning coffee, favorite restaurants, custom artwork drawn in toddlerhood and proudly displayed can all be incorporated into the blended home to honor and value to the original bonds.

However, a sure signal that things are progressing well in your blended family is watching some of those original traditions be shared with new siblings and parents.  When your daughter wants to watch her favorite movie with her step sister, she is seeking a joint connection.  When your son wants to go alone with his stepdad to a much-anticipated movie premier, he is blazing his own trail of firsts with someone now close to him.

Initiate new traditions that bridge the two families.  Some things that work for us are birthday dinners, regular hikes to the mountains and a yearly vacation together.  Even with all the schedule conflicts and possible stress of our large group, we make the effort to spend time together.  We always gain a sweet return on the investment of time.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Mother's Rule the World!

I really do believe Mother's rule the world, in the sense that for a child, Mother really does control most of his or her world.  I'm so grateful that my own mother was available and raised me unselfishly.

This time of year is one that brings perennial strong feelings.  My first child was born the day before

Mother's Day.  So early May brings memories of anticipating a child, newborn fog, and learning a love I had never experienced before.  I am overcome with the power of mother-love, and learned to recognize that my own mother had that same strong emotion over me!  It's powerful.  For years I longed to be a mother and the living of it is greater than anything expected.

If you mother is still a part of your life, be sure to recognize her.  If you are a mother, create your own celebration with a walk down memory lane.  Bring out the photos and share the memories with your children.  Look for the women in your community who have mother-hearts, but might not be celebrated this year.  Maybe there is a single mom with children to little to celebrate her?  Could you give her the gift of a gift certificate for dining out?  Maybe there is a mother whose children have moved far away.  Could you invite her to join your family for lunch?  It doesn't take much for us to feel appreciated and recognized.

Of all the names I'm called, Mommy is my favorite.  Here are some other thoughts about Mother's Day:

The Day I Became a Mother

My First Mother's Day

Happy  Mother's Day

Rules of Motherhood (That I learned from my own Mama)

Celebrate You!

Stepping Through Mother's Day As a Stepmom

Mother's Day Steps

My Greatest Accomplishment